Extinction Rebellion tells government to ‘ACT NOW’ in Summer Uprising protests across the UK

By Meg Thackray-Howard

Thousands across the UK are partaking in peaceful protests in 5 major cities as part of the socio-political movement fighting against climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. 

Established in May 2018, Extinction Rebellion uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to make the government take the necessary action against social and ecological collapse. 

Following their protest in October 2018 in which 1500 people came together at Parliament Square in London, Extinction Rebellion launched their Summer Uprising protests in Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Glasgow and London this week. 

In each city they are enacting non-violent disruption, blocking roads and bridges, displaying banners and flags and staging ‘die-ins’ as well as holding talks, workshops and music events. 

Each city has its own large, coloured boat painted with the message ‘ACT NOW’ to represent one of their three demands, telling the government to act now to stop biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. The boats have become an iconic symbol of the rebellion and human survival, with each city’s boat being named after a climate activist who has worked to defend the future of our planet. 

In Glasgow, protestors are standing in solidarity with climate refugees, highlighting the reality of the climate and ecological emergency that millions of people across the world are already experiencing, such as hurricanes, floods and food shortages. 

In Leeds, protestors are causing disruption in the financial district, demanding that the finance industry invests in renewable energy and green solutions. 

Protestors in London are gathering outside the Royal Courts of Justice to demand the legal system take responsibility. They are representing climate activists all over the world who sacrifice their lives and freedom to fight for climate justice. This comes as the courts in the UK prepare to prosecute over 1000 people who were arrested during the International Rebellion in April.

The series of protests has come to be known as ‘Project Mushroom’, with Extinction Rebellion saying in a statement: “Just as mushrooms spread their spores, we want to show the UK Government how we are growing and spreading after our London Rebellion.” 

These protests have also reached Birmingham, with a protest taking place outside the world’s biggest Primark on Saturday 13 July, the day of the founder, Arthur Ryan’s funeral, and exactly 50 years after the company was founded. Large groups formed outside the store with drums and flags and even lay down en masse in an attempt to fight and raise awareness of the ‘fast fashion’ industry. 

Banners reading “fast fashion kills” were displayed while leaflets explained why they are fighting the ‘throw-away attitude’ of the industry and how it is not sustainable or ecologically viable. It was an eye-catching display with protestors all wearing pink, waving pink flags and even laying out pink carpets for a catwalk, all to contribute to the positive atmosphere of the protest. 

Extinction Rebellion have launched a local Facebook group for the Summer Uprising event as well as pages for the specific cities involved, giving information on how to take part in your area. Their hashtags #SummerUprising, #ActNow and #ExtinctionRebellion are also trending on Twitter as more people across the UK get involved.

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