On the Streets with XR

On Saturday, June 22, Extinction Rebellion NYC organized small group discussions in a midtown Manhattan park, followed by a march to take the message of “climate emergency” to the media – in this case directly to the headquarters of The New York Times.

Many have heard of Extinction Rebellion (XR) now, which started with large actions in London, blocking bridges to demand decisive action from governments on the environmental crisis. The UK group describes XR as an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

In the U.S., XR has added a fourth demand: “We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.”

I’ve been interested in XR because of its explicit call for nonviolent direct action, which the New York City group has put into action a few times since January 2019. Organizers tend to be creative — and agile climbers — so the actions are colorful and serious at the same time.

Banner on Port Authority bus terminal

Climbers hung this banner on the bus terminal directly across the street from The New York Times.

Climate emergency banner

The effort to hang a headline banner, “Climate Emergency = Mass Murder”, directly under the newspaper’s name wasn’t entirely successful.

Demonstrators block 8th Avenue in Manhattan

Seventy people were arrested blocking traffic on 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st streets, where The New York Times‘ headquarters is located.

Lots of antiwar activists have been joining these actions, whether as supporters or risking arrest. While many of us find XR a little too focused on its own brand, we also find that most of the individuals who turn out make the connections between many issues. In my small group one young activist got into a well-received rant about the need to stop buying bombs with our money and use Pentagon funding to save the planet instead.

This is probably an appropriate moment to remind readers to mark their calendars for the November NWTRCC gathering, which is being planned with a focus on collaboration between war tax resisters and environmental activists. There should be a lot to share!

— Photos and post by Ruth Benn

2 thoughts on “On the Streets with XR”

  1. Edward Agro says:

    Good show, Ruth. About how many were at the action?

  2. Ruth says:

    Not huge, not like London yet, but this one might have been a bit bigger than the last 2 I tagged along on. A few hundred I expect with some of us regulars but a lot of younger folks who had not been coming out to demonstrations before so that’s good.

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