Extinction Rebellion Activists Stage “Die-In” at Rockefeller Center

by Vins
Published: Updated:

On January 26, 2019, nine activists from the environmental group Extinction Rebellion (XR) staged a “die in” at Rockefeller Center’s Prometheus statue and ice rink.  As eight protesters lay in the middle of the ice rink in the form of the group’s symbol (an hour glass inside a circle), one member, Greg Schwedock, climbed the Prometheus statue and hung a banner that read, “Climate Change = Mass Murder; Rebel for LIFE; [International] rebellion week April 15-22”  The activists raised awareness that climate change poses a very real threat of extinction.  All nine nonviolent activists were arrested for their demonstration.

The Rockefeller Center “die in”  was the first of XR’s “direct action” protests in the US.  Established in the United Kingdom in 2018, XR is an international social movement that aims to rally global support to tackle climate breakdown. In November 2018, XR members took over five bridges in London, calling on the UK government to commit to zero-carbon emissions by 2025, one of three goals highlighted on the group’s web site.

Media coverage of the Rockefeller Center protest included NBC (which has its headquarters in the building), ABC, and the New York Daily News.  These reports presented the basic facts of what occurred at the event on January 26, but none of them provided deeper context such as background on Extinction Rebellion and how its campaign aims to engage the public. As US corporate media goes, this was the first real exposure of the activist group XR, but establishment news outlets brushed past the group’s history and goals.  Instead, the articles highlighted the protesters’ arrests.  Not a single major US news outlet covered XR’s highly successful protest in London last fall.


“The Modest Start of a People’s Climate Rebellion?” Who. What. Why. January 28, 2019, https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/01/28/the-modest-start-of-a-peoples-climate-rebellion/

Rory Varrato, “Can Civil Disobedience Turn the Tide Against Global Warming?” Who. What. Why. January 24, 2019, https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/01/24/can-civil-disobedience-turn-the-tide-against-global-warming/

Ellie Sechet, “The ‘Extinction Rebellion’ Wants You to Wake Up,” Rolling Stone, January 28, 2019, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/what-is-extinction-rebellion-785569/.

Student Researcher: Josh Durham (North Central College)

Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)