Extinction Rebellion plans bank holiday weekend of protests

Extinction Rebellion has called on activists to ‘flood the streets’ of Britain in a series of mass-gatherings despite the risk of spreading Covid – as it plans a weekend of Bank Holiday mayhem targeting airports and cities.

A four-day ‘regional rebellion’ from tomorrow until Bank Holiday Monday will see protests across the UK, including in London, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds.

The environmental group has encouraged its protesters to take action locally with the aviation sector, banks, the fossil fuel industry and petrol stations as targets.

The protests are being held as the coronavirus pandemic continues, ahead of larger-scale demonstrations planned for London, Manchester and Cardiff next Tuesday.

Protests this weekend are due to include roadblocks, marches, sit-ins, bike rides and picnics, with organisers emphasising their ethos of ‘non-violent direct action’.

The demonstrations will risk breaching social-distancing guidelines, although XR said it will be ‘pushing very hard’ for all participants to obey Government rules.

XR supporters will also be encouraged to protest digitally, and urged to phone their MPs and ‘institutions of power’.

Anneka Sutcliffe, from XR Actions, said a ‘few thousand’ people had indicated on Facebook that they would join in the London events, but numbers were expected to be lower than at demonstrations held in October.

Converging marches will start from Tate Britain, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Cathedral and Smithfield Market.

Other protests will include a roadblock on Prince Street Bridge in Bristol, a mass bike ride from Brighton to London, banner drops and rallies against the expansion of Luton Airport and the aviation industry at Gatwick Airport.

Extinction Rebellion protests gather at a boat in London's Oxford Circus on April 15 last year

Extinction Rebellion protests gather at a boat in London’s Oxford Circus on April 15 last year

Chris Newman, a GP supporter of XR, told reporters today they were aware of the health risks of public gatherings and had cancelled previous protest plans.

He said: ‘Everyone in XR that I’ve spoken to is extremely mindful of the risks and we’re all concerned about health risks. 

‘That’s why we’re here, because climate change is a health issue as much as anything.

‘So everyone will be pushing very hard for all XR participants to be obeying Government rules with social distancing, with them avoiding protests if they’re unwell, or if they have to isolate.’

Activists gather on Westminster Bridge in London during a demonstration on October 7, 2019

Activists gather on Westminster Bridge in London during a demonstration on October 7, 2019

Clare Farrell, a co-founder of the XR movement, said the Covid-19 crisis ‘has shown us that things can change very, very rapidly when people realise that there is an existential threat to human life and if we took climate change as seriously as this pandemic then we are surely capable of making massive changes very, very rapidly’.

The protests will coincide with the Government introducing hefty fines for anyone organising gatherings that breach social distancing rules from Friday.

The Home Office said earlier this month: ‘Those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more may face a £10,000 fine.’

Paul Stephens, a former police officer who now supports XR, told reporters their group had received a letter from the police outlining the restrictions and potential for fines ‘unless you are one of the exceptions’.

Extinction Rebellion stages a protest on a road near Marble Arch in London on April 15, 2019

Extinction Rebellion stages a protest on a road near Marble Arch in London on April 15, 2019

‘The exceptions they list are businesses and charities and they didn’t mention protests, of course in the actual regulations protests are in there,’ he said, adding the ’empty letter’ was a ‘vague threat’ and that XR would be challenging it at a meeting with police today.

Yesterday, police said XR co-founder Roger Hallam and four others had been charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

Hallam, 54, of Wandsworth in South West London, Diana Warner, 61, from Bristol, Ferhat Ulusu, 42, of Hackney in East London, Holly Brentall, 28, of Haringey in North London, and Steven Nunn, 56, of Telford, have been remanded in custody ahead of appearing at Wood Green Crown Court next month.

An XR spokesman said four of the five, apart from Nunn, were connected to the group.

What events are Extinction Rebellion planning over their four-day ‘regional rebellion’?


  • BANNER DROP – UK-WIDE – Extinction Rebellion is asking local groups to ‘hang their banners to Tell The Truth about the climate and ecological emergency’.
  • 8.30am – BRISTOL: Activists plan to block the Prince Street Bridge to address the ‘climate and ecological emergency’
  • 9.30am – NORWICH: XR demonstrators will gather at Whitlingham Country Park for what is being dubbed the ‘Tour de Norwich’
  • 11AM – BIRMINGHAM: THE ‘Midlands HS2 Rebellion’ at Eastside Park in Birmingham will see people invited to dress either as an animal, tree or flower ‘threatened by HS2 destruction’ or in funeral attire. They will form a slow funeral march to the HS2 headquarters where they will hold a ‘die-in’. 
  • 12pm – MANCHESTER: A protest against plans for the High Speed 2 rail network as part of the ‘Northern HS2 Rebellion’
  • 2.30pm – CAMBRIDGE: Activists will gather for the ‘Oily Handed March’ at Senate House, which will see them march through Cambridge to demand the university and colleges divest from fossil fuel companies.
  • 2.30pm – CENTRAL LONDON: Activists lobbying against Shell from XR Lambeth, XR Southwark and XR Wandsworth will gather at Jubilee Gardens
  • 6pm – BRIGHTON TO LONDON: A mass bike ride entitled ‘Swarm to the Rebellion’ 


  • AIRPORTS AND AVIATION – UK-WIDE: XR said there ‘should be No Going Back’ to the airline industries following the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 10AM – SOUTH LONDON: The Sutton, Merton, Croydon and Kingston XR groups are joining forces opposite the Pavillion Cafeat Beddington Park to stage actions highlighting the issues around the Beddington Incinerator.
  • 11AM – NORTH LONDON: Activists from seven North London groups will gather at Edmonton Green in Enfield for a day opposing the Edmonton incinerator.
  • 11AM – BISHOP’S STORTFORD: A mass action at  Bishop’s Stortford station protesting the expansion of airports including the nearby London Stansted
  • 11AM – LEWIS: A funeral march dubbed a ‘Procession for the Planet’ on Westgate Street, including a jazz band and black-clad mourners. The protest will later change to ‘celebrate joyously the beauty and power of nature’.
  • 12PM – BRIGHTON: The ‘We want to live March’ will take place at Brighton Pavillion, involving XR groups from Lewes, Shoreham, Worthing and Brighton who will march along Brighton seafront to call for change.
  • 12PM – LONDON, OXFORD, CARDIFF, LEICESTER, YORK – Parents are encouraged to come with their babies and/or older children to ‘peacefully feed and play in protest at fossil fuel bailouts and the failure to transition to a green economy’. The London action is happening at the Bank of England.
  • 2PM – TBC: A protest planned to cancel the expansion of Luton Airport 
  • 2.30PM – GATWICK: A ‘Mad Hatters’ Tea Party’ at Gatwick Airport South Terminal, with activists encouraged to ‘bring a picnic, dress up if you want, and protest with us about the government’s and the aviation industry’s lack of action to take radical steps towards zero carbon’.
  • 3PM – LEEDS: A protest starting at Millennium Square in Leeds is aimed at stopping the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport. Activists are taking a bike ride across the region with the aim of showing people in West Yorkshire how far they believe the noise pollution will travel if the expansion is approved.
  • 4PM – BRIGHTON: A march along Brighton seafront and then towards London will take place with a ‘Lightship called Greta’


  • TRUST THE PEOPLE – UK-WIDE: XR said activists will ‘get together online, in parks, and maybe even in roads to talk, listen and connect beyond our bubbles’ and learn ‘how all of our intersecting crises are connected’.
  • 12PM – MANCHESTER: A ‘Making History March’ from Manchester Cathedral will look at the city’s relationship with slavery and colonialism.


  • BANKS AND FINANCE – UK-WIDE: Proters will be arguing that the ‘world of dirty finance should be taking a permanent ‘holiday’ from destructive dealings and propping-up polluters’.
  • 11AM – BIRMINGHAM: A protest at 130 New Street will urge HSBC to ‘divest from these polluters’ and involve ‘theatrical action’ with members from XR Youth.
  • 11AM – NORWICH: A ‘Drumming for Divestment’ march will ask banks and financial services companies to ‘Act Now and divest from fossil fuel investments, whether they be pension funds or other investment vehicles’/
  • 1PM – CAMBRIDGE: Extinction Rebellion Cambridge invites every citizen to ‘flood the streets’ from Parker’s Piece and ‘join a colourful and dramatic oceanic themed march through Cambridge with music and drumming, where we will highlight the plight of the oceans and seas’.


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