Protestors bring London to a halt with mass funeral
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Hundreds of climate change protestors gathered outside Parliament Square to stage a mass funeral procession across the capital.
They were asked to arrive in appropriate funeral dress and bring wreaths or photographs of extinct animals.
Extinction Rebellion, a direct action group that believe the appropriate response to the climate change crisis ‘is no longer mass marches and petitions’ encourage acts of disruption; including chalking the roads with their hourglass logo in an attempt to get Parliament's attention.
Earlier last week, the group caused a gridlock at Earl’s Court, Tower Bridge and Elephant & Castle.
In preparation for Saturday's protest, TFL announced the closure of major roads towards Parliament Square due to ongoing protests.
The morning began with a reading from the Declaration of Rebellion, a statement adopted by the group to show solidarity with ‘all beings affected by the ecological crisis.’
Onlookers were informed that the earth had entered its ‘sixth mass extinction event.’
Phil from Bristol, an 82-year-old protestor and member of Christian Climate Action has been involved with the group for two weeks. He was introduced to the movement after attending one of Roger Hallam’s talks.
Members from this subgroup travelled from Bristol and Cardiff just to attend the protests, they are due to return to their respective cities in the coming week.
Hallam is the alleged founder of Extinction Rebellion.
In 2017, he was credited for spring-boarding a successful civil disobedience movement at King’s College London. After eight weeks of disruptions in the form of chalking, arrests and hunger strikes, the university agreed to divest from fossil fuels by 2022.
Pockets of divestment and fossil fuel societies across British universities have adopted Hallam’s tactics. In the aftermath, he created the ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ campaign and spray-painted City Hall.
Since August 2017, the group have set up daily roadblocks and mock funerals. They promised to continue their civil disobedience until Sadiq Khan agrees to a discussion on London’s toxic pollution levels.
Thereafter, two subsequent campaigns - Rising Up and Extinction Rebellion - were created to expand their social reach. According to Hallam, the latter has reportedly received over £50,000 in donations.
The peaceful atmosphere turned mildly sour when activists started digging the newly laid grass in Parliament Square Garden. They wanted to create a shallow grave to represent a ‘symbolic burial.’
Over a dozen police officers cordoned off the hole to prevent any further damage to the lawn, with one activist arguing that damage to the earth was not criminal.
Members of the group then offered to repair the ground but were told the ‘people that run the square will want to replace it later.’
After two hours in the square, the funeral procession made its way towards Buckingham Palace. Around ten activists held a makeshift coffin marked with the words ‘Our Future.’ They were told to look to the floor and not at the cameras in order to appear more sombre.
Police arrested 14 people for criminal damage, including two for damage to the grass and one for vandalising a war memorial. Protestors also glued their hands onto the palace gates.
The word ‘Mother’ was sprayed across the Women of World War II memorial prompting feelings of disgust from activists.
Rachel, an insurance worker called the vandalism ‘immature’ and ‘hypocritical.’
“Stick with the protest, there is no need to graffiti. They’re now being seen cleaning it off, they just look like naughty school children.”
However, members of the public as well as a police officer cleaned the paint with nail polish remover and cotton wipes. Members of the public were impressed by the display of unity and offered to help clean the wall.
Hallam told us that the next step is to get students and PoC involved to improve the diversity and reach of the movement.
Further action is expected to take place in the coming weeks.