Save Yourselves

Extinction Rebellion Brought London to a Standstill

Photos from the first day of XR's international rebellion.

by Patrick Heardman; photos by Chris Bethell
15 April 2019, 6:28pm

Thousands of Extinction Rebellion activists took to the the streets of London on Monday to block major roads in protest of the ever-worsening climate crisis. At 11AM this morning core groups of protesters gathered at Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament Square, and Waterloo Bridge to block traffic, set up camp, and reclaim the roads as public spaces in the name of preventing planetary extinction.

At Marble Arch, demonstrators blocked the road, before marking out camping spots and erecting a stage for live performances on the nearby lawn. Police presence was minimal and the atmosphere was joyful; kids ran around freely on the grass, pushed each other around in empty shopping trolleys and painted each others’ faces. The parents were mainly across the street picking up picnics in Pret.

Meanwhile, Waterloo Bridge had been repurposed into the Garden Bridge that never was; strewn with potted plants and greenery that people had bought for the occasion, complete with a solar-powered stage and a “skate park” – a DIY mini ramp stamped with the Extinction Rebellion logo. Young kids spray-painted the street with messages of love for the environment.

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An enormous pink boat sat in the middle of Oxford Circus, forming the “Tell the Truth” stage, where music is set to continue long into the night. Meanwhile the geographical heart of the rebellion – Piccadilly Circus – acted as a place for workshops and a hub for information on the action.

Meanwhile over at Shell HQ, the walls were daubed with “Shell knows!" and "climate criminals" and the windows of a revolving door were smashed.

The group hope to camp out for several days in each of the locations in an effort to force the Conservative Government to meet their demands, including reducing the country’s carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and the creation of a “Citizens’ Assembly” on climate and ecological justice.

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@christopherbethell / @PatrickBenjam