Extinction Rebellion rush-hour protest sparks clash on London Underground.
Commuters clash with demonstrators over morning rush hour disruption.
Extinction Rebellion activists have disrupted London’s public transport network during rush hour, in an action that is likely to polarise opinion on the environmental movement’s tactics.
There were clashes at Canning Town tube station as commuters dragged a protester from the roof of a Jubilee line train and set upon him. He had to be defended by London Underground staff and other passersby.
At Shadwell, five activists blocked the Docklands Light Railway, with two climbing on top of a train and at least one glued to the door.
*watch the videos here
Phil Kingston, 83, whose hand was glued to the side of a carriage, said he was doing it for the sake of his grandchildren.
“I’m also very concerned about what’s happening in the poorer parts of the world who are being hit the hardest by climate breakdown,” he said. “I’m a Christian and it really upsets me to see God’s creation being wrecked across the world.
“So I’m here on those three counts and I’m longing for the government to take some actions which are in accord with the parliamentary declaration of climate and environmental emergency.”
Police said eight people had been arrested as a result of both incidents.
Ruth Jarman, who sat next to Kingston, said they had targeted the DLR because its destination was London’s financial district.
“It’s heading for the City, which is the God of our time,” she said. “All the scientific reports coming out now about what we should do about the climate breakdown, about the ecological breakdown, we need total transformation of the economy. At the moment we serve economic growth. Humanity, the planet is crucifying itself to economic growth. It cannot go on.”
*watch the videos here
Extinction Rebellion said in a statement that it was aware the action at Shadwell was divisive, and that many in its movement were not in favour.
It added that those involved included a grandfather, an ex-Buddhist teacher, a vicar and a former GP, who had planned it autonomously.
“We are aware that one of our activists responded in self defence in a moment of panic when confronted by a threatening situation. He acknowledges his accountability for this action and we offer gratitude for members of the public who helped to protect him,” the group said.
“In light of today’s events, Extinction Rebellion will be looking at ways to bring people together rather than create an unnecessary division.”
It later issued an apology in a statement on its Facebook account.
It said: “Following our previous statement on this morning’s Londontransport actions, we would also like to apologise to all those whose lives we disrupted this morning. We have spent a lot of time thinking about how best to respond.
“Extinction Rebellion remains fully committed to nonviolence. The climate and ecological emergency is the biggest threat facing us all today, and it is unfortunate that something like this has to happen for this to become ‘newsworthy’.
“That said, we are all incredibly sad at how events unfolded this morning, and are using this as an opportunity to learn and reflect as an organisation.
Although we are pushing for disruption and civil disobedience, we are still learning how to do this in a way that does not result in violence, and that does not discriminate against hard-working individuals, especially those in communities who stand to be most affected by the climate and ecological crisis and are most vulnerable to systems of power.”
The group launched a wave of civil disobedience on 7 October to highlight the risks posed by the climate crisis and the accelerating loss of plant and animal species. At least 1,711 people have been arrested since the protests started.
Most commuters at Shadwell were not impressed. “Is an electric train good or not?” one asked the protesters. “Is this train good for the environment?”
“The way they’re doing it is not right,” said another, who complained that her daughter was now stuck on a DLR train between stations.
XR said in a statement that activists were willing to go to prison “in order to save lives in acts of conscience and necessity”.
The group said: “The actions are intended to bring further economic disruption to the capital as part of the ongoing campaign to convince the government to take meaningful action on the climate and ecological emergency.
“Safety measures are in place to ensure nobody is trapped underground.”
17 October 2019