Hundreds of British environmental activists — who also happen to be mothers — risked arrest for participating in a “nurse-in” protest at an Extinction Rebellion blockade in central London this week. The Extinction Rebellion activists are fighting for the lives of their children and demanding that their government take action immediately to protect future generations — but it’s unclear if the protest will ultimately garner a satisfying response (or, um, any response?) from politicians. You can see a video of the protestors here.
The Extinction Rebellion’s Facebook event page summed up the group’s aim like this:
“Mothers will do everything they can to protect their children. Ecological devastation and the growing climate emergency means our babies’ lives are at risk. We are reaching a point where it may be too late to save them. We are here to demand that our government acts now to protect our babies. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding mothers will join the front line and stage a mass nurse-in at one of the road blockades… on Wednesday October 9th at around 10:30 a.m.. The event will be a peaceful, nonviolent act of loving civil disobedience….”
Extinction Rebellion assured members on its Facebook page that safety precautions were being taken, including letting the press know well in advance to be sure the protest had a high level of visibility, and choosing a blockade area that would be calm with informed police presence and legal observers and stewards on hand to support women and children.
Thousands of Extinction Rebellion activists took action this week in cities around the globe to spread their message of the need for immediate action on climate issues. Just in London, members of the group have locked down 11 sites in various protests (i.e., gluing themselves to government edifices, chaining themselves to funeral hearses in public squares).
Extinction Rebellion tweeted on Oct. 14:
The organizers of the group say they plan to continue the protests for 14 days, or until their demands are met. So far there have been over 300 arrests — and that number is expected to rise.
One protester, Zuhura Plummer of Oxford, explained her motive: “While we squabble over Brexit, the planet is burning. I don’t want to be doing this, I just want the government to listen to the science and act… The moment to act is now, not 2050.”
The group’s specific demands are clear and succinct:
1) The government must finally tell the truth about the scale of the climate crisis.
2) The UK must plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the year 2025.
3) The government must form a citizens’ assembly of ordinary people to create policy and hear evidence on the global climate crisis.
In the United States, the Extinction Rebellion activists have added a fourth demand: “A just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable and indigenous sovereignty and establishes reparations and remediation led by and for black people, indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice.”
In the UK, at least, the conservative government in place seems unlikely to entertain Extinction Rebellion’s demands. Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to those involved in the protests as “uncooperative crusties” with “heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs.”
It’s not just nursing mothers who are part of the Extinction Rebellion movement. So far other activists of the group to be arrested include elderly citizens, clergy members, and disabled persons.
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