Extinction Rebellion members speak out about controversial protests

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:14 09 August 2019

Extinction Rebellion protestors decended on Bristol as part of a week of national demonstrations.   Picture: Mike French

Extinction Rebellion protestors decended on Bristol as part of a week of national demonstrations. Picture: Mike French

Mike French Creative

Members of environmentalist group, Extinction Rebellion (XR) from North Somerset have spoken out about the week of demonstrations which brought Bristol to a standstill.

Extinction Rebellion protestors decended on Bristol as part of a week of national demonstrations.   Picture: Mike FrenchExtinction Rebellion protestors decended on Bristol as part of a week of national demonstrations. Picture: Mike French

The controversial protests, which demanded the Government take immediate action to tackle climate change, came to a head on July 17 when protestors, who had brought central Bristol to a standstill with a series of blockades, attempted to block the M32.

16 protestors,including one from Weston and another Kewstoke, were arrested and charged with wilfully obstructing a public highway.

Reports also circulated of a man who had been unable to say goodbye to his dying father because he had been stuck in traffic on the way to Bristol Royal Infirmary.

After receiving threats and abuse online the campaigners asked for their surnames not to be disclosed for fear of reprisal.

Extinction Rebellion protestors decended on Bristol as part of a week of national demonstrations.   Picture: Mike FrenchExtinction Rebellion protestors decended on Bristol as part of a week of national demonstrations. Picture: Mike French

Jill from Easton-in-Gordano said: "We are law abiding citizens, and are not looking to make people's lives harder.

"We are desperately sorry about the man not getting to be with his dying father and it's the last thing we would want to happen to anyone, we are reviewing our future tactics to try to avoid such events.

"However, we need to break the collective cycle of denial we are all in about the real cost of the climate and ecological emergency we are facing.

"We know we need to be visible and, for some, cross a line we would never ordinarily do. It's not easy; we are all active members of our local communities and it is only the seriousness of the situation that leads us to act outside our comfort zones."

Shirley from Pill commented: "While we recognise not everyone supports the disruption the protests have brought, most interactions we have had have shown support for what we are trying to achieve.

"We genuinely regret disrupting people's daily lives, but the science shows that this disruption is nothing in comparison with what the future will bring unless we act.

"We therefore call on all North Somerset residents to respond to the emergency we are facing. To paraphrase John Stuart Mill; 'bad things happen when good people do nothing'. Act now. Join us."

Richard from Portishead said: "XR demands that politicians start telling the truth about climate change and that the government creates realistic plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Failure will lead to uninsurable property, frequent heat waves, droughts, floods, forest fires and reduced food availability. These are no longer distant possibilities that might affect future generations, but are realities for many people already, and will only get worse without drastic action."

Bob from Pill said, "The UK has a responsibility to lead the fight against the climate emergency. It's a matter of justice - rich people, mainly in the developed world, are the major emitters of carbon.

The effects are mainly felt by poor people now, and will be felt by future generations who haven't caused the damage. As a developed nation we are able to make the necessary changes and need to do so if other less wealthy and more populous countries are going to follow suit. No-one has ever convinced anyone of the need to change by not taking any action, and all our children and grand-children will suffer from the consequences of inaction."

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