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Frome people take part in XR London protests

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Extinction Rebellion’s two-week long protests in London recently, saw Frome people playing a leading role in much of the non-violent direct action. 

The local group say, “Busloads made their way to the capital to stage protests, participate in peaceful actions, and communicate XR’s central message: time is running out to avert the climate catastrophe facing us and government must take action. 

“Amongst them was local gran, Di Bligh, 72 who was arrested at Millbank for blocking the carriageway. Di said how heartened she was by station police response to her participation and described officers thanking protestors for taking a stand.

“Around 10 of Frome’s intrepid residents put themselves on the frontline and were arrested – playing a part in the total 1,700 people who were arrested nationwide – a key part of XR’s strategy.

“While XR’s methods may appear controversial to some, it’s important to note it is founded on the back of doctoral research into movements that have changed history through non-violent direct action; including the Civil Rights, suffragettes, and anti-apartheid movements. 

“Another Frome resident and first-time arrestee, Camilla Gavin, 58, reported her experience saying: “A policewoman asked how I was feeling, and when I said, ‘quite wobbly’, she replied ‘we’re really grateful for what you’re doing’. Surprisingly, the DNA guy taking prints then added ‘yes, we’d all like to thank you’.”

“Among XR’s advocates are lawyers who have worked on climate change legislation for their entire careers, as well as upwards of 20,000 scientists worldwide who have studied environmental science, find themselves frustrated and despairing in the face of catastrophic inaction, and accept non-violent direct action really is the only course left. 

“Frome doctor, Rebecca Hall, also played an integral part in ;Doctors for XR; during the latest protests, taking part in an action to highlight the 40,000 people in the UK who die each year from air pollution. 

“Overall the rebellion was an enormously positive and effective exercise. Frome resident, Alison Murdoch, took part in the Samba band which played at various locations over the two weeks. She said, “It was an extraordinary experience. Marching along these tall London streets, the sound was incredible, and we would look up and there were maybe 20 floors of people watching us. We met city types who cheered us on and told us they were so glad to see us and that we have their support.” 

“Frome-based musician, Vicki Burke, also joined the October protests in London, this was her third major action with extinction Rebellion. This time Vicki played multiple pop-up gigs to the thousands of protesters with Somerset-based protest folk band ‘Seize the Day’. 

Vicki said, “The stage and PA system destined for the South West bands and speakers on Lambeth Bridge had been impounded by the police even before we arrived, so in the true spirit of ‘carry on regardless’ we honoured our promise to play, pulling a portable speaker system and just set up and played wherever we could. We played to protesters, police and those locked on awaiting arrest. It was amazing playing in the street outside the Cabinet office in Whitehall, even the police seemed to enjoy the entertainment. 

“I found the whole experience empowering and often very emotional, getting the climate emergency message out to the country is a priority and I’m certainly going to return to the next Extinction Rebellion Uprising whenever that takes place.”

“Frome-based documentary photographer, Mark Brookes, joined the Extinction Rebellion protests during the first week. He said, “I’ve been covering protests going back years but haven’t come across the totally non-violent and peaceful approach that Extinction Rebellion use before. 

“It’s inspiring to see people of all ages and backgrounds putting themselves on the line to bring attention to the climate issue. I see it as my mission to increase awareness using my photographs, many of which have been shared across websites and social media nationally and Internationally.”

Above: Frome Musician Vicki Burke playing with ‘Seize the Day’ in Whitehall during the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. 

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