In April, colored flags bearing the shape of an hourglass, a skull, bees and butterflies began to flutter over the River Thames. In the space of an hour five bridges were closed down. Thousands of people poured into the streets and disrupted traffic in central London for 11 days, demanding immediate action from the government on the climate crisis.
Six months later, mass civil disobedience returned to the streets of London and 60 cities across the world. In the course of ten days, over 1,700 protesters from Extinction Rebellion, a protest movement that through nonviolent direct action seeks to raise the alarm on extinction and other ecological crises, were arrested in London. The police escorted a giant pink octopus puppet to Trafalgar Square. Activists participated in sit-ins at London City Airport, the BBC offices and Billingsgate fish market. In the second week the police banned protests, but they continued anyway.
How we extricate ourselves is the challenge at hand. Extinction Rebellion’s demands take a step beyond the Paris Agreement; they insist that Britain reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. And their creative actions have captured the attention of the public, bringing many more voices into play.