Extinction Rebellion: Why protesters are occupying Hyde Park this weekend

·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/04/16: Protestors gather at Marble Arch, Hyde Park holding flags during the Extinction Rebellion's End to Fossil Fuels protest in Central London. Extinction Rebellion took to the streets during this crucial moment. Our reliance on fossil fuels is funding wars, driving the cost of living scandal and leading to climate breakdown. This is why they are demanding an immediate end to all new fossil fuel investments. (Photo by Loredana Sangiuliano/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protestors gather at Marble Arch, Hyde Park, in April. (Getty)

Protest movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) is planning to occupy Hyde Park this weekend to make a demand for climate action.

Members of the group will camp in central London from Saturday until Tuesday in what they call a “Festival of Resistance”.

It comes after XR activists protested in parliament by supergluing themselves in a chain around the Speaker’s chair.

The protest on Friday, involving around 50 XR members, also saw a person climb scaffolding near Westminster Hall while two others used bike locks to chain themselves to the railings at the New Palace Yard entrance.

The Metropolitan Police made eight arrests and launched an investigation into the incident.

Read more: Speaker hints at tightening of Commons security after Extinction Rebellion protest

Thousands of climate activists from Extinction Rebellion gathered in central London starting at Hyde Park for the opening demonstration march for the UK Rebellion action on 9th April 2022 in London, United Kingdom. With two weeks of protests, the XR message is one to end the World's reliance on fossil fuels and to demand an immediate end to all new fossil fuel investments, which is driving economic issues while sending the planet towards climate breakdown. Extinction Rebellion is a climate change group started in 2018 and has gained a huge following of people committed to peaceful protests. These protests are highlighting that the government is not doing enough to avoid catastrophic climate change and to demand the government take radical action to save the planet. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Thousands of climate activists from Extinction Rebellion gathered at Hyde PArk earlier this year. (Getty)

Why is Extinction Rebellion occupying Hyde Park?

XR described the three-day occupation of Hyde Park as “prep” for bigger demonstrations in central London, culminating in 100,000 people taking to the streets next Spring.

The group will meet at Marble Arch on Saturday morning and build the occupying site from the ground up, which will include art and music.

They said they will provide training in community mobilisation and speaking about citizens’ assemblies.

XR says: “The purpose of the occupation is to align thinking around the multiple crises and to ensure that as many people as possible are aware that another model of democracy exists: citizens’ assemblies… and that they could be an answer to our problems.

It adds: “It’s designed to gee-up rebels, upskill them and give them purpose, so that they can head back to their regions empowered and ready to do the hard work that will bring thousands of us to London in October to take mass participation nonviolent direct action.”

What are Extinction Rebellion's demands?

XR wants the government to take action on the climate and ecological crisis and sees protests as the only way of achieving this.

The weekend occupation of Hyde Park is a “first step in a laser-focused, strategic plan” and the group hopes to build up numbers for future demonstrations.

XR has three main demands for the government. They are: telling the truth about the danger the world is in due to climate change, taking urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and creating a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.

Read more: The people making a difference: the climate activist fighting fossil fuel giants

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: A man drops a banner as Extinction Rebellion protesters target the Palace of Westminster, calling for a Citizens’ Assembly, on September 2, 2022 in London, England. XR demonstrators have made their way into the Commons chamber, gluing themselves to the Speaker's chair, as they call for a Citizens’ Assembly to let the people decide and end the corruption in Westminster. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Extinction Rebellion protesters target parliament last week. (Getty)

What have the Met Police and Sadiq Khan said?

The Met Police are facilitating the protest this weekend.

XR said the force agreed to this because it chose "to occupy a green space and focus our attention on nondisruptive, mobilising, educational and community-building activities".

It said it was publicly sharing this plan with the Met to be transparent, but it warned if officers interfered with the protest it would move it to the nearest junction and cause disruption.

The Mayor of London has said he “supports the democratic right to peaceful protest” but stressed they must be done safely and legally.

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan added: “The mayor supports the democratic right to peaceful protest and it is evident from the extreme weather events London has experienced in recent years that much more needs to be done to tackle the climate emergency.

“However, Sadiq is clear that protests must be carried out safely and lawfully and should not put Londoners or the capital’s economic recovery at risk.

“The Mayor’s top priority is protecting Londoners and he fully supports the Met’s efforts to keep Londoners safe and to keep our city running.”