XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019

XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019 – three years ago Extinction Rebellion were, like today, protesting on the streets of London, with several key locations in London blocked for most of the week. Some joined the Axe Drax protesting over the polluting wood-burning powerstation that gets environmental subsidies for massive pollution. And the families of victims of knife crimes held a rally at Downing St and later blocking Westminster Bridge calling for urgent action against knife crime.


XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues – Waterloo Bridge

With several of London’s key routes still blocked by Extinction Rebellion there were no buses in the central area, so I walked across Waterloo Bridge on my way from the station to the City. I could of course had used the tube, but XR had turned the bridge into a ‘Garden Bridge’ and I wanted to see how their protest there was progressing so went earlier to allow myself plenty of time.

The bridge over the River Thames was still closed and had plenty of plants on it – so XR had, despite a couple of hundred arrests, achieved something that Boris Johnson had failed to manage with his backing the ludicrous and expensive Garden Bridge scheme as Mayor. New protesters were arriving to keep the bridge green as I walked across, enjoying the atmosphere with no traffic pollution, only people, plants and bikes.

The only vehicle on the bridge was a lorry brought by XR to stop the flow of traffic and to act as a stage for performances. There were people on top and locked on underneath to frustrate any attempt by police to remove it. It was a sunny morning, warm for the time of year and people were enjoying themselves, some dancing to drums or listening to poets, story tellers and singers, some attending workshops, others just laying back and enjoying the sun.

Their aim was to keep the bridge closed to vehicles until the government took necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, telling tell people the truth about the disaster we are facing, halting biodiversity loss, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. They want a programme led by a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice. The government failed to act, other than put increasing pressure on the police to remove the gardeners who held the bridge for over a week.

XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


Drax wood burning must end – Grocers Hall, City

Campaigners were picketing the Drax AGM in the City of London next to the Bank of England demanding an end to burning wood at Drax power station, the UK’s biggest carbon emitter.

In 2018 Drax got a huge subsidy of £789 million from a levy on our electricity bills because their highly polluting wood-burning qualifies them under a measure intended to combat climate change, not contribute to it. The wood they burn, largely from US forests which are being destroyed for it, contains carbon safely locked away, which they put back into the atmosphere that the trees removed it from. Drax – which was also planning to become the largest gas powered generating station in the UK, put 13 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018.

Drax wood burning must end


XR around Parliament Square

I took the tube to Westminster where Extinction Rebellion were still blocking the streets around Parliament Square two days after they closed them to traffic.

More protesters were arriving to join the blockade, and the theatrical ‘Red Rebel’ group of protesters was walking around the area. I took a few pictures before walking up Victoria St to the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

XR around Parliament Square


Drax Protest at BEIS – Westminster

The Axe-Drax protesters had also come from the City to continue their protest outside BEIS demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution. Drax burns more wood each year than the UK produces, mainly from environmentally disastrous clear-felling of US forests. Drax also burns coal from opencast mining, again with huge environmental damage, disrupting some communities and lead to human rights abuses, particularly in Colombia.

Drax’s planned gas-fuelled power plant, 2.7 times larger than the existing largest gas-fired plant was planned to come into operation in 2025 and probably intended to get most of its gas from UK fracking or new gas fields in the UK and Shetlands. Campaigners say that we can only meet the desperate need to cut our emissions enough to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees if we keep the gas in the ground under land and sea – and that our longer-term aim needs to be to lower the CO2 levels. The campaigners were joined by a few more from Extinction Rebellion.

Drax Protest at BEIS


Knife crime campaigners Operation Shutdown – Westminster

Finally I joined a large group of campaigners from Operation Shutdown, a consortium of mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones who were holding a rally at Downing St calling for urgent action by the government to halt the growing epidemic of knife crime.

They called for stiffer penalities for knife and gun crime, an end to cuts to local services including youth work and theie restoration to pre-austerity levels, as well as more money to get more police on the streets. They want adequate safeguarding, a coordinated approach to trafficking and grooming and abuse of children and young people and a proper sharing of information and accountability for recently announced public health approach to knife crime.

At the end of the Downing Street rally they marched with two wreaths the short distance to Bridge Street where they presented the wreaths to a police officer and hold a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed at Parliament by terrorists, before continuing onto Westminster Bridge which they sat down on to hold a further rally.

Knife crime Operation Shutdown


More pictures and text on these stories on My London Diary:

Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS
XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


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