Over 120 environment militants have been arrested since Monday, as London’s Metropolitan police disband barrages and remove protesters attached to vehicles.
British climate group Extinction Rebellion blocked busy London thoroughfares yesterday, including Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge. Several bus routes were diverted, and swathes of traffic stood immobilised.
Extinction Rebellion advocates “non-violent civil disobedience” to drive “radical change” and limit “the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.” Affiliated protests are occurring in eighty other countries.
Some residents, annoyed at the disturbance to their daily activities, said disruptive protest methods only antagonised wider society—rather than winning more people over.
Yet decades of documentaries, films, exhibitions, galas, fundraisers, ad campaigns—in transport, magazines, newspapers, on television, billboards—dead and dying ecosystems, statistics, facts, and photographs have not convinced us to stop buying single, plastic-sheathed aubergines.
A retired doctor told the Financial Times he joined Extinction Rebellion after having “tried to do everything in a nice way, and absolutely nothing happened”—and argued there was evidence peaceful disturbance effects substantial change.
Should protesters consider the risk of alienating observers? Or is the whole point of protest to make noise, disrupt, and attract attention?
If traditional methods—like marches, petitions, lobbying, and boycotts—fail to produce significant change, what should activists do?
Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.