Wednesday 31st October saw over one thousand people come together for the Declaration of Rebellion. We stood in the face of all that we see wrong with our current system. The day was an uplifting gathering of hearts, minds and faiths. We amassed in Parliament Square beneath the statues of great practitioners of civil disobedience, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Millicent Faucett. Powerful speeches that addressed our collective dismay at the state of environmental destruction, and willingness to rebel in these conditions, were heard from an array of speakers.
Mainstream political support was seen with MP and former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, and prominent Labour MP Clive Lewis speaking up for the Rebellion’s demands and against the continuing institutional failures to tackle climate breakdown. Campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy and journalist George Monbiot raised their voices in anger and grief at the devastation of the natural world within their lifetimes – Humanity having recently been shown to have wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970. The response to these appalling consequences was made clear by the words of 15-year-old environmentalist Greta Thunberg,
“To me almost everything is black and white.
There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.”
While tears were shed, with Extinction Rebellion wreaths laid on the ground to commemorate those who have already died because of environmental destruction, the overwhelming sense of the day was one of solidarity and purpose.
With everyone engaged in the need for civil disobedience, Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, then invited those in attendance to join her on the road outside Parliament. With a consensus among all those at the rally, the peaceful Declaration continued in the form of an occupation of the road for over two hours; made up of speeches, songs, and chants shaming the UK government’s inertia in the face of the climate emergency. Fifteen arrests took place in the process, including ex-serviceman Steve Masters and speaker Donnachadh McCarthy when they refused to break their peaceful protest outside Parliament.
The message was clear: WE’VE HAD ENOUGH. The resolve among the crowd was determined, and the events of a day for which no permission was sought, demonstrated the power we have in numbers. This was a strong marker from which we will continue to build. Another 15 Affinity Groups have been formed since Declaration Day, with talks and workshops continuing around the country. The numbers attending the upcoming actions are growing with each passing day, and we hope you join us between the 12th and 25th November for the Rebellion. The time is here. If not us, WHO? If not now, WHEN?
People from all backgrounds and walks of life standing side by side and declaring rebellion in unison was a powerful and inspiring thing to behold. This rebellion will be fuelled by respect and love and the fear that our civilisation is teetering on the edge of an abyss – Narj, Conscientious Protector