Global Newsletter #51

The Power of One

Friday, May 14, 2021 by Extinction Rebellion

A Rebellion of One in Warsaw, Poland. Sign: ‘I'm a resident of this beautiful planet and I have the right to defend it.’ Photo: Karolina Zięba.

In this issue: Ro1 in Poland, Sweden, Switzerland & Israel | Spring Rebellions in Norway & Canada | Ro1 Round Up | Newsletter XTRA | Book of the Month | Humans of Ro1

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Introduction

Dear rebel,

A new kind of Rebellion has been born and it is spreading across the globe.

From Alaska to Israel, lone rebels are sitting in the streets. They are facing not only arrest but oncoming traffic, baffled onlookers, and potentially aggressive drivers.

So far more than 450 rebels have sat on the world’s tarmac and refused to get up. This is the Rebellion of One (Ro1). It’s powerful and it works.

They may look alone, but each rebel sitter has a hidden support team, ready to step in the moment they are needed. It requires training and a great deal of personal bravery, but by using this tactic, a handful of rebels can stay Covid-safe and gridlock an entire area.

In Action Highlights we report on the recent Ro1’s in Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Israel. Earlier efforts in the UK, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic and Alaska are covered in a special Ro1 edition of Action Roundup.

A rebel is force-fed fake oil in a performative roadblock for Norway’s Spring Rebellion.

We still love a traditional Rebellion though, and in this issue we highlight the spectacular Spring Rebellions that took place across Norway and in Vancouver, Canada. With boats sailing into city centres, and performative roadblocks involving oil vomiting, it’s clear that traditional Rebellions will never go out of style!

Be inspired by the many courageous and imaginative forms of Rebellion in this issue, and join us for the crucial Rebellions yet to come.

With the G7 summit and COP26 climate talks just around the corner, your rebellious spirit is needed more than ever.

A familiar pink ship sails into downtown Vancouver to open the Spring Rebellion.

Get involved in XR wherever you are! Check out our global website, learn more about our movement, and connect with rebels in your local area.

The Global Newsletter is brought to you by XR Global Support, a worldwide network of rebels that help XR chapters grow. Read previous issues here.

We are in a crucial phase of human history, and we need money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.

Support Our Rebellion

Contents

  • Action Highlights: Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Norway & Canada.

  • Ro1 Roundup: UK, USA, Czech Republic, Germany, Holland & Russia.

  • Newsletter Extra: France, South Africa, Scotland, Australia, Indonesia...

  • Upcoming Actions: G7 Rebellion Wave, XR Fast.

  • Announcements: XR Global News Live, XR Music & Sounds, Global Media Library.

  • Book Of The Month: Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth.

  • Humans of Ro1: Poland’s Spring Rebellion.

Action Highlights

Ro1: Courage on 4 Frontiers

April / May | Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel

A Ro1 wave has swept across Europe and the Middle East over the last few weeks. Below are special reports from 4 Ro1’s, with the rest covered in Action Roundup.

Bydgoszcz, Poland: A rebel faces oncoming police. Her sign reads: ‘It scares me that capitalism is killing joy in people.’ Photo: Santus.

Poland (30 April)

Spurred on by their president’s reckless plan to keep coal mines open until 2049, 41 rebels sat alone in the roads of 10 Polish cities. Each rebel stayed put until the police carried them away, with the blockades lasting from 5 minutes to over 1 hour.

A couple of plucky rebels decided that one Ro1 was not enough and returned to face the traffic a second time, resulting in a total of 44 blockades on the day.

In Toruń, a topless rebel with ‘I have only fear with me’ written on her body sat in the cold for almost an hour. When police finally removed her, she was shivering so hard they asked her whether she was mentally stable.

Toruń, Poland: A rebel puts on a shirt after sitting topless in the cold. The sign: ‘I shudder at the thought that my parents aged 80 will have to fight for a glass of water’. Photo: Nadia.

This confusion summed up much of the reaction from the Polish authorities and public. Rebels were asked whether they were suicidal (rather than the system) and why they didn’t just protest on the pavement.

Despite these mixed and often patronising responses, attendance at XR inductions has boomed since the action.

The Swiss rebel’s sign: ‘I am terrified by the idea that children don’t have a future anymore because of the Climate and Ecological crises’.

Switzerland (8 May)

The Swiss Ro1 was extra special as it marked XR Switzerland’s first ever nationally coordinated action!

More than 20 rebels sat in 8 locations with around 100 rebels onsite to support them. Some affinity groups were so new that the co-ordinators didn’t know they existed until the day itself. Now that's decentralised organising at its coolest!

While a Ro1 in Zurich ended with a round of applause from the public, an extremely brave and determined rebel in Lausanne was twice dragged from the road by a driver. The steely rebel still returned to sit in the road before being arrested by the police.

While the vulnerability of the Ro1 actions definitely impacted the Swiss public, it has also built trust among the regional rebel groups. XR Switzerland feels unified and re-energised. Some teams even want to make Ro1 actions happen weekly.

Södertälje harbor, Stockholm. Sign: ‘I’m terrified that the fossil fuel industry will destroy our future’.

Sweden (8 May)

Swedish rebels were nervous, but after a series of successful Ro1 blockades across 5 cities they are buzzing, and they want to get back on the streets. 16 rebels sat for upto one hour on main roads in Stockholm, Uppsala, Gothenburg, Malmo and Lund.

The public reaction was mostly positive, with many sitters receiving thanks, thumbs up, and even flowers. The police reaction was more mixed though. In some cities traffic was diverted and the sitters had time to move on, but in others police instantly forced them to the sidewalk.

One rebel in Malmo was charged with obstruction and held in a cell for 4 hours. He is likely to face a hearing and be fined.

Malmö: A sitter is given flowers by a touched passerby. A young man gave the rose earlier. Her sign: ‘Baghdad 50°C I am terrified that places on Earth will be uninhabitable due to the climate crisis’.

Israel (9 May)

XR Israel’s Ro1 started in Ashkelon, a southern city that neighbours a major oil plant. The rebels found themselves largely welcomed, with sitters given food and drinks (it was an extremely hot day) and advice to stay clear of the road so they didn't get hurt.

Blockades then started in Haifa on the north coast where reactions were more mixed. While one sitter received the wrath of impatient drivers, another was backed by enthusiastic students.

A sitter negotiates with a driver in Tel Aviv. Her sign: ‘I’m dead scared for what my generation will have to deal with because of the climate crisis’.

In the afternoon came the big push - a co-ordinated Ro1 wave involving 15 sitters blocking roads across a number of cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. You can watch these Ro1’s unfold in this multi-location livestream hosted by XR Israel.

While police remained vigilant at the Ro1 sites they stayed largely hands off. One rebel was fined and another sitter in Jerusalem was arrested though later released without charge.

A Ro1 in a shopping mall in Haifa, Israel. The sign: ‘I'm dead scared that the world burns from heat waves and fires because of the climate crisis and we go on as usual’.

Rebels Drown in the Oil of Equinor

3 MAY | Norway

Fake oil is poured over Mother Earth outside Equinor's offices Photo: Sunniva Haugene

XR Norway staged a day of dramatic actions involving over 100 rebels across 5 different cities and the target was the state-owned oil company Equinor.

Rebel groups put on spectacular roadblocking performances themed around drowning in Equinor’s oil, with rebels being force-fed fake oil and submerged in glass tanks full of it.

At Equinor’s offices in Bergen a professor from the nearby university poured several buckets of fake oil over a rebel representing Mother Earth and called for the Bergen University to cut its ties with the oil and gas industry.

Rebels also unfurled a banner that read “Equinor is heading for disaster” while a special protest ship sailed in called the ‘Equitanic’. Equinor operates in 36 countries and continues to explore for oil in Norway without regard for the climate crisis.

Rebels stage an opening performance in front of Oslo District Court. Banner reads: ‘Equinor - criminal oil exploration’.

As is so often the case, it was the activists who were penalised rather than the criminals. 18 rebels were arrested in Oslo and each fined around €2000. We reported on the Norweigan government’s repressive tactic of mass-arrests and sky-high fines in our March issue.

On a positive note, and possibly thanks to earlier international criticism, police showed more restraint with the rebel roadblockers, and their actions got mainstream media coverage. Norwegian rebels are dreaming up longer roadblock actions for the future.

Follow XR Norway on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Canadian Crackdown: 5 Arrested for Sitting on a Sidewalk

1-5 MAY | Vancouver, Canada

Police board the goodship Tahlequah on the 1st day of Vancouver’s Spring Rebellion. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

XR Vancouver started their Spring Rebellion in style, creating a space in the city centre for a crew of 5 rebels to sail their ‘boat of truth’ into. The pink vessel was named Tahlequah after the killer whale who mourned her calf.

Over five days, rebels organised teach-ins, occupied bridges, and held meetings with indigenous communities to unite against a government that seems set on ecocide.

Unlike the rest of the G7, Canada’s carbon emissions have increased since 1990. This is primarily thanks to the Canadian Tar Sands - the largest deposit of crude oil on the planet. Alone it contains half of the world's estimated emissions budget!

8 rebels were arrested shutting down Granville Street Bridge on the 2nd day of Rebellion. Photo: Ryan Walter Wagner & Yvonne Hanson

Yet the Canadian government is pressing ahead with plans to ramp up oil extraction from the Tar Sands via the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (TMX).This would increase Canada’s fossil fuel exports almost sevenfold when countries should be slashing their emissions to prevent mass extinction.

On the Rebellion’s 3rd day, rebels marched to Lions Gate Bridge, a major access point into the city. They planned to occupy the bridge and call for an end to TMX and oil exports but were met by police on the way who told them to stop.

When the rebels obeyed and peacefully sat on the sidewalk, the police arrested 5 of them! The crowd chanted ‘bullshit charges’ as the wronged rebels were led away.

XR Vancouver responded: “When state actors crackdown on totally mundane activities, it means they are worried. If enough people sit down - this pipeline doesn't stand a chance.”

To join XR Vancouver or find out more, visit their Facebook page or website.


Ro1 Roundup

Ro1: All The Other Ones

1 MAY | UK: A rebel stops traffic crossing Tower Bridge in London. Over 200 rebels blocked roads in towns and cities across the UK, making it the biggest Ro1 action to date. Find out more in this special UK Ro1 Newsletter created by the same team as this one.

1 MAY | Alaska, USA: This rebel sat down at a crosswalk in Anchorage but the cars didn’t stop, they just went right on around her (though some slowed to read her sign). Alaskan rebel, blockade or no blockade, we salute your courage.

26 APRIL | Czech Republic: Drivers try to remove a rebel sitter and his sign. It reads ‘I am terrified by how much suffering the climate crisis will cause’. There have been one or two Ro1’s every week since late March, and the action has sparked more media interest than any other. This Ro1 video got 400k views. A nationwide Ro1 will happen in June.

27 MARCH | Germany: A rebel is helped out by a passer by in Berlin. His sign: ‘I am afraid that my children will suffer because of the climate crisis.’ Over 100 rebels in 44 cities took part in Germany’s Ro1. With the country in lockdown since November, the action required online training and serious bravery from rebels facing angry drivers and bad weather. Watch this excellent video compilation of the day and hear from the rebels involved.

9 MARCH | Netherlands: This Rotterdam rebel’s sign: ‘I'm terrified for our futures because of the climate crisis’. 30 rebels trialled the Ro1 tactic in a nationwide effort that included blockades in Amsterdam and Utrecht. A bigger Ro1 is planned across the country in June.

13 JAN 2020 | Russia: Legend has it that this lone rebel in Moscow inspired the whole Ro1 movement. Here he disrupts a busy crossroads outside the Kremlin. His sign: “Our planet has great capacity. But it’s not limitless”. In 1.5 years of solo protesting he has been jailed for 81 days and arrested 22 times, most recently in Red Square.

This issue has been dedicated to Ro1 - but head over to Newsletter XTRA to find out about this month’s other beautiful actions, including rebel updates from France, South Africa, Scotland, Australia, Indonesia, and more. Newsletter XTRA: A feast for the eyes and extra fuel for the soul!

Newsletter XTRA


Upcoming Actions

G7 Rebellion Wave: Drowning In Promises

11 - 13 JUNE | UK & Global

The Group of 7 (G7) represent the leaders of the 7 richest 'democratic' nations in the world. They are meeting in Cornwall in the UK in early June and we're going to call out their empty words with the theme "Drowning in Promises"

Whether you want to join the G7 Cornwall Rebellion at the summit itself, be part of build up actions across the UK, or get involved in Global Rebellion actions all around the world, this G7 Action Pack contains everything you need.

This G7 will play a crucial role in shaping the COP26 climate negotiations later this year. Read our G7 Action Pack then rise up and take action!

XR Earth Fast: It’s Now or Never!

28 AUGUST | Global

On 28th August 2021, XR Earth Fast will start in camps around the world.

Rebels will be fasting for different lengths of time - from a couple of days to indefinite fasts until our demands are met - inspired by the Tibetan Hunger Strike camps and the many brave activists through the ages who have used this form of protest for the greater good.

2021 is the most important year in human history. It’s now or never!

For more info and Global registration, visit the XR Earth Fast website


Announcements

Support Your Crew In The Global South!

Donate By 23 MAY

Support your crew in the global south and donate for G7 actions around the world!

Rebels in the global south need your help to get their voices heard during the G7 in June. XR COP Network is crowdfunding to support groups and buy them smartphones and data.

Donate if you can. Donation deadline is 23 May!

XR Global News LIVE: Watch It!

6 MAY | Online Now

The May episode of XR Global News includes live reports on rebel actions in Ireland, Japan, Columbia and more. Watch it now on Facebook and Youtube.

New episodes are aired every month. Watch them and share to amplify global actions!

To submit content for the next XR Global News fill in this simple form. If you've got content for Global social media channels fill in this simple form.

XR Global Media Library: Free Training!

Wednesdays | 18:30 BST | Online

The XR Global Media Library is a powerful tool to store, organise and promote media content from all over our movement.

Join a free training session on how to use the XR Global Media Library and give your rebel photos, videos, and art the global audience it deserves.

Training sessions take place in this Zoom meeting room every Wednesday at 18:30 (BST) (Meeting ID: 750 4225 4888 | Passcode: 67JqRA)

XR Music & Sounds: Join Us!

You’ve missed the introductory Zoom, but don’t worry! If you’re a musical rebel then XR Music & Sounds still want to hear from you. Tap your keyboard and get in touch now!


Book of the Month

Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth, by Jim Merkel

The author begins by telling a story; learning of the Exxon Valdez spill while watching TV in a bar, listening to experts debate who was responsible for all the oiled wildlife, he realized it was him. He was responsible because his lifestyle depended on petroleum products, meaning he helped create the demand that ultimately caused the disaster.

He resolved to utterly change his life. This book is about what he did and how he did it.

Merkel focuses entirely on personal lifestyle change. We know that’s, at best, incomplete, as it ignores the roles of government policy, industry practices, and the economic realities that leave most people in little direct control over their footprint.

If personal lifestyle changes were going to save us, it would have already. However, to look at a big, multifaceted problem, take full personal responsibility for it, and dedicate one’s life to addressing it - that’s the heart of what rebels do. It’s a lot like a Rebellion of One.

Here are a few other books recommended by our team and our readers….

The ABCs of Global Warming: What Everyone Should Know About the Science, the Dangers, and the Solutions, by Charles Siegel

One rebel wrote, “This book is the best overview of the climate crisis that I have read...I understand many of the issues better because I have read this book.”

Siegel explores possible solutions and debunks common denier claims, too, in clear, accessible language.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline, by Andreas Malm

Not actually a manual on how to blow up things, this book is instead a manifesto on why we should blow up things.

“Many rebels will be shocked and dismayed by this argument. If that is the case, then all the more reason to read this timely book.” Rich

Avoid Amazon. Support local bookshops by buying your books at Bookshop or Hive.


Humans of Ro1: Klucznik, Wroclaw, Poland

The banner: ‘Climate crisis fears made me abandon my dream career’.

I brought the Rebellion of One to my city in February because it is a simple and powerful idea that anyone can do, showing both determination and vulnerability.

I am usually the trained de-escalator for our actions so it was great to be taking a stand myself. I was busy with other parts of the Rebellion Wave on the day, but I made sure I had time to think about the words for my banner. It was just me, the paper and the markers.

When it came to the action itself, I was calm and I just tried to be present in the space. There was a mixed reaction; some people gave me a thumbs up, others just carried on with their rushed journeys, and some drivers got aggressive - suggesting I was insane for what I was doing. But I wasn’t afraid, because nothing is scarier than the Climate Emergency.

I joined XR Poland after overcoming my own mental health struggles with climate anxiety. I knew I wanted to take some serious action and XR just looked so cool and inspiring compared to traditional environmental activism. I thought this approach could actually work!

I have had to re-imagine all the ideas I had for my life in facing up to my fear of the Climate Emergency, including my dream of becoming an architect. But I do this willingly to protect what I care about most. My future is less important than the whole of humanity.

I was detained for my Ro1 action by the police and issued a fine which I didn’t accept. I am now facing legal action. But every action I do grows my confidence in dealing with the police. I know my rights and the laws they must follow, so they are becoming less of a threat.

Instead I can focus on improving how I handle being detained and sharing my experience with other rebels. Because this is what activism is all about: spreading the knowledge to enable us, together, to change the system.

If you know (or are) a rebel somewhere in the world with a story to tell, get in touch at xr-newsletter@protonmail.com


Thank you

23 APR | London, UK. A new rebel collective, Insurance Rebellion, intends to take action at Lloyds of London until they stop insuring the fossil fuel industry globally. To kick things off, they dumped a fuck-tonne of fake coal outside Lloyd’s global headquarters.

Thank you for reading, rebel. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. Get in touch at xr-newsletter@protonmail.com.

We are in a crucial phase of human history, and our movement needs money to make our message heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.

Support Our Rebellion


About the Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Our movement is made up of people from all walks of life, contributing in different ways with the time and energy they can spare. Chances are, we have a local branch very close to you, and we would love to hear from you. Partecipa …or consider making a donation.

Fatto con amore e rabbia Extinction Rebellion (XR) è un movimento fare-insieme. Tutti i nostri disegni e opere d'arte possono essere utilizzati non commercialmente allo scopo di salvare il pianeta. Questo non significa creare merce per raccolta fondi o mandare ad XR una percentuale delle vostre vendite. Non appoggiamo o creiamo alcuna merce e perseguiremo legalmente chiunque lo faccia. Il simbolo è stato progettato nel 2011 dall'artista di strada ESP, il quale presta ad XR l'utilizzo del logo sulla stessa base: www.extinctionsymbol.info