During two weeks of events that took place in sixty cities worldwide in October 2019, more than 700 people were arrested for civil disobedience as the group Extinction Rebellion continued to demand urgent global action on climate change, Democracy Now! reported. Launched in London in 2018, Extinction Rebellion has grown into a global movement. “This is not a drill”, said Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! as activists took to streets around the globe to raise the alarm about the climate crisis by supergluing themselves to buildings, blocking roads, or occupying public landmarks.
Nearly 300 of the arrests took place in London after people there shut down busy streets and took over eleven public sites. In New York City, 90 activists were arrested after demonstrators poured fake blood on the iconic bull statue outside the New York Stock Exchange. Dozens more were also arrested in Amsterdam, Vienna, and Madrid. The Extinction Rebellion events mark the first time that a global movement addressing climate change has begun to gain traction.
According to Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook, the movement is pursuing three major demands. The first is for government and other institutions “to tell the truth,” Bradbrook told Democracy Now! Bradbrook called for an end to official “lip service by declaring emergencies and then carrying on with business as usual.” The second demand is for net-zero carbon emissions by 2025 and a halt in biodiversity loss. The third demand, perhaps the most ambitious, is the have a citizens’ assembly. Much like a citizen jury, a demographically representative sample of the citizens would use critical thinking skills and plenty of expert information to come up with policy solutions.
To build upon that return to a more democratic system, Extinction Rebellion is more about the promotion of functioning Democratic systems in the face of climate change. Indeed, Bradbrook talks about how there are essentially two directions the world can go. It can either become more democratic and listen to the will of the people or it can become less democratic and fall to what Bradbrook called “ecofascism,” the promotion of fascistic ideas such as ethnic cleansings and genocide in the name of saving civilization from climate change.
Although establishment outlets, including CNN and the BBC have covered Extinction Rebellion, much of corporate media has stayed silent. Even so, CNN focused on the sensational aspects of the event in New York where protesters blocked traffic in Time Square with a boat. Meanwhile, alternative news sources such as Democracy Now! are speaking to the founders of the Extinction Rebellion, the activists, and other sources whose perspectives on climate change are newsworthy.
Source: Juan Gonzalez, “This Is Not a Drill: 700+ Arrested as Extinction Rebellion Fights Climate Change with Direct Action” Democracy Now!, October 8, 2019, https://www.democracynow.org/2019/10/8/extinction_rebellion_global_actions_climate_crisis.
Student Researcher: Austin Burris (College of Western Idaho)
Faculty Evaluator: Anna Gamboa (College of Western Idaho)