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The faces behind the Extinction Rebellion climate change chaos

The activists behind the chaos caused by climate change protests this week come from all walks of life – including a failed organic farmer and a baronet’s daughter.

Co-founder Simon Bramwell is a former builder who was taken away in a police van on Monday after supergluing himself to the glass door of the Shell HQ in London.

His removal came as 113 people were arrested in the capital by police dealing with the ongoing protests at five landmarks including Waterloo Bridge and Marble Arch.

Also leading the ‘XR’ group is Gail Bradbrook, a ‘neo-pagan’ who became an activist as a direct result of taking huge doses of two powerful psychedelic drugs.

Others involved include Tasmin Osmond, who is the granddaughter of baronet Sir Thomas Lees, veteran campaigner Roger Hallam, and ex-UN worker Laura Reeves.

King’s post-graduate student George Barda and Stuart Basden, who says prison is like ‘boarding school’, are also involved in the demonstration of up to 10,000 people.

Here is more about those involved in the protest which is now in its second day: 

One of the directors of private limited company Compassionate Revolution, which has organised and partly financed XR, is Wiltshire mother Gail Bradbrook

Simon Bramwell (left) was taken away in a police van after supergluing himself to the glass door of the Shell HQ in London on Monday. One of the directors of private limited company Compassionate Revolution, which has partly financed XR, is mother Gail Bradbrook (right)

Simon Bramwell, who was seen shouting as he was held by police, is a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion from Stroud, Gloucestershire, and a former builder.

The 46-year-old was part of a 12-strong group of middle class fanatics who admitted bringing the M4 and A4 to a standstill by lying down on a stretch of the motorway.

He was sentenced in 2016 over the protest against the expansion of Heathrow. He has been repeatedly arrested for climate change and anti-fracking protests.

The bush craft instructor says ‘hearing less birds in our beautiful countryside’ – where he goes off the grid for up to 19 days at a time – convinced him to help form ‘XR’. 

He wanted a ‘punchier’ eco-movement where people were willing to be arrested to be heard instead of just ‘playing it safe’ and failing to get their message across.

Mr Bramwell glued himself to the Shell HQ glass door as part of the protests on Monday

Mr Bramwell glued himself to the Shell HQ glass door as part of the protests on Monday

One of the directors of private limited company Compassionate Revolution, which has organised and partly financed XR, is Wiltshire mother Gail Bradbrook, 47.

The ‘neo-pagan’ said on a recent podcast that she decided to become an activist as a direct result of taking huge doses of two powerful psychedelic drugs.

Ms Bradbrook, who has two sons aged ten and 13, flew to Costa Rica a few years ago to take a dose of ibogaine, a hallucinogenic shrub growing in West Africa. 

The mother, who has a PhD in molecular biophysics, also tried ayahuasca, a highly toxic, mind-bending potion made by Amazon jungle shamans. 

She said the drugs ‘rewired’ her brain and gave her ‘the codes of social change’. Afterwards, she ended her marriage and began her activism in XR. 

Dr Bradbrook appeared on ITV's Good Morning Britain where she told of fears for her children

Dr Bradbrook appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain where she told of fears for her children

Within XR, she holds mystic ‘moon circles’ with female colleagues inside a tepee, at which they ingest another ‘natural’ drug, mugwort, used by ancient Celts.

Ms Bradbrook has warned that warming in the Arctic is likely to cause ‘the collapse of the food system’ in just three years – a belief no scientist would endorse.

She has also said she ‘does not condemn’ protesters who ‘choose to damage property in order to protect nature’, although she personally prefers non-violence.

Speaking on ITV today, she looked close to tears as she spoke emotionally about the impact of climate change and fears her children would be left with nothing to eat.

She told of Sir David Attenborough’s fears over civilisation, but Good Morning Britain host Richard Madeley interrupted her to say he is ‘not a saint, just a broadcaster’.  

Tasmin Osmond, 35, is a veteran of ‘direct actions’

The most prominent – and radical – of the XR leaders is failed organic farmer and PhD student Roger Hallam

Tasmin Osmond (left), 35, is a veteran of ‘direct actions’, while Roger Hallam (right), 52, is a veteran demonstrator who is researching a PhD in effective radical campaigning

Also involved is Tasmin Osmond, 35, a veteran of ‘direct actions’ such as Occupy London, the poverty protest which set up a camp outside St Paul’s cathedral in 2011.

The granddaughter of Dorset baronet Sir Thomas Lees, Omond went to Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where she read English.

Who are Extinction Rebellion and how are they funded? 

Extinction Rebellion grew out of the activist group ‘Rising Up!’ which unsuccessfully tried to stop the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Established in Britain in May 2018, the group has been organised and partly financed by a private limited company called Compassionate Revolution.

Its financial support comes from philanthropic foundations and crowdfunding – with an online campaign having raised £166,000 since launching in October.

XR now has more than 100 groups across Britain alone, with up to 10,000 supporters drawn to the protests in London this week.

It has groups in dozens of countries including South Africa, India and even the Solomon Islands – with the latest campaign involving people in at least 80 cities in more than 33 countries.

Last November, the group held a protest which blocked bridges across London to bring chaos to the capital.

In February, they took part in a UK-wide school strike and on April 1, during one of the Brexit debates, a group of their protesters stripped off in the House of Commons.

Ms Osmond was thrown out of anti-aviation group Plane Stupid after saying the green movement ‘brand’ was ‘unwashed, unshaven and up a tree’.

Another of the founders of Extinction Rebellion is Roger Hallam, 52, a veteran demonstrator who is researching a PhD in effective radical campaigning. 

He became interested in climate change in his 40s when an organic farm he ran in Wales went bankrupt because of extreme weather conditions.

Mr Hallam went on hunger strike in 2017 to demand King’s College London stop investing in fossil fuels. 

His stated ambition for the group is to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world and replace them’, starting with Britain. 

In a recent video on YouTube, he said protesters should be ready to cause disruption through personal ‘sacrifice’. If necessary, they ‘should be willing to die’.

Mr Hallam said in the past: ‘You need about 400 to go to prison and you need two to three thousand people to get arrested.’ 

But on Monday, he insisted: ‘No-one wants to get arrested. I want to get back to my farm. I’m just a poor farmer, nothing special.’

He added: ‘We aren’t throwing stones or shouting. People are coming in to central London and sitting down. We are causing disruption and it’s justified.’ 

Mr Hallam has also claimed paralysing traffic will eventually cause food shortages and trigger uprisings. 

XR co-founder Stuart Basden, 36, a middle-class writer from Bristol

George Barda, 43, believes the 'Criminal UK Government' is to blame for climate change

XR co-founder Stuart Basden (left), 36, a middle-class writer from Bristol, while George Barda (right), 43, believes the ‘Criminal UK Government’ is to blame for climate change

Also involved in the group is 43-year-old George Barda, who believes the ‘Criminal UK Government’ is to blame for climate change.

He is a post-graduate student at King’s College in London and the son of classical music and stage photographer Clive Barda.

But Mr Barda is also a dedicated revolutionary who camped outside St Paul’s cathedral in the Occupy London campaign.

Today, he is a director of XR parent company Compassionate Revolution and regularly appears on Russia Today, Russia’s controversial British TV channel.

Meanwhile XR co-founder Stuart Basden, 36, a middle-class writer from Bristol, has goals that go far beyond a desire to curb global warming.

Mr Basden has claimed: ‘The climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life.’

He has urged XR followers to embrace jail, where he spent a week after defacing London’s City Hall with spray paint last year, saying it is ‘a bit like boarding school’.

Jane Augsburger, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, was arrested for criminal damage outside Shell's headquarters on Monday

Jane Augsburger, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, was arrested for criminal damage outside Shell’s headquarters on Monday

Jane Augsburger, 54, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, was one of those arrested for criminal damage outside Shell’s headquarters on Monday. 

Pictures show the mother-of-one grinning and kneeling down beside a smashed glass door at the front of the company’s office building. 

The care worker, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, previously lived in the Dordogne in a luxurious home with a pool. 

Katerina Hasapopoulos, 40, who has previously attended Stroud Town Council to ask questions about climate change, superglued herself to the Shell HQ on Monday.

Before her arrest, the mother-of-three said: ‘Shell is already responsible for destroying lives in places like Nigeria.

‘Shell cares only for profit and I have three beautiful young girls who I want to see grow up to have a future.’ 

Angie Zelter, 76, was arrested yesterday and carried off Waterloo Bridge after refusing to budge. 

The veteran protester has been arrested over 100 times across the world and describes herself as a ‘global citizen’. 

In 1996 she was part of a group that disarmed a BAE Hawk Jet, preventing it from being exported to Indonesia. 

Zack Polanski, a Green Party candidate for the London Assembly, is also involved in the protests. 

He once claimed his hypnotherapy skills could help women grow bigger breasts. He said: ‘It’s so safe and cheaper than a boob job.’ 

Commuters cycle today past a pink boat placed in the road at Oxford Circus by activists

Commuters cycle today past a pink boat placed in the road at Oxford Circus by activists

Rowan Tilly, from Oxford, was among protesters who took part in an ‘anti-nuclear raid’ at Buckingham Palace in 1993. 

The furniture maker compared her civil disobedience to the actions of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the suffragettes. 

Laura Reeves is also involved in the protest group after she was left feeling ‘deflated’ by ‘office activism’ having worked for NGOs including the United Nations.  

The actress and artistic director took to the stage at Marble Arch yesterday to address hundreds of activists. She describes herself as a ‘vision holder’ for XR. 

Miss Reeves, whose online show reel lists roles in commercials for River Island and Nikuma Jewellery, has previously lived in New York but is now based in London.

She flaunts photos of holidays in far flung destinations such as Peru and the Burning Man festival in Nevada on social media, despite the damage caused by air travel.

She said: ‘This just isn’t a priority for the government but this is literally a matter of life and death, there will be no future unless drastic steps are taken. 

‘Half of life, half the world’s species, has become extinct since the 1970s. The government needs to declare a climate emergency.’ 

Miss Reeves urged members of the crowd to put their heads together and discuss ways in which they could help make their message resonate.

‘We have got to come together or we will become extinct,’ she said ‘People are now starting to wake up. How can anything be more important than life on Earth?’ 

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what do the protesters want? 

Extinction Rebellion has emerged as the premier protest movement for climate change activists.

Since its first demonstration last year the group has injected fresh energy into the environmental cause, capturing headlines, recruits and high-profile supporters.

It has grown into an international movement backed by celebrities, academics and writers, calling for ‘radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse’.

– What does the group want?

Extinction Rebellion (XR) says direct action is needed to force governments to act urgently on climate change and wildlife declines and halt a ‘sixth mass extinction’.

It is calling for an ecological emergency to be declared, greenhouse gases to be brought to net zero by 2025, and the creation of a citizens’ assembly to lead action on the environment.

XR says the systems propping up ‘modern consumer-focused lifestyles’ will lead to mass water shortages, crop failures, sea level rises and the displacement of millions.

‘Only a peaceful planet-wide mobilisation of the scale of the Second World War will give us a chance to avoid the worst-case scenarios,’ it says.

– What are its methods?

XR uses what is calls ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ as the world has ‘run out of the luxury of time to react incrementally’.

Examples include blocking busy roads and bridges, spray-painting government buildings and activists chaining and gluing themselves to buildings including the gates of Buckingham Palace.

A colourful catwalk show took over London’s busy Oxford Circus junction earlier this month to highlight the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

Before that, semi-naked activists glued themselves to windows in the public gallery of the House of Commons during a Brexit debate.

On Monday, protesters vandalised Shell’s headquarters, gluing themselves to windows and smashing glass revolving doors in a bid to cause more than £6,000 of damage – to enable them to have a jury trial in Crown Court.

A day later, around two dozen protesters occupied the International Criminal Court in the Hague, in the Netherlands, in a bid to have ecocide recognised as an international crime, the group said.

XR says it wants ecocide, the deliberate destruction of the natural environment, to be listed alongside crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and crimes of aggression.

– How did it build momentum?

In its first protest on October 31 last year, the group assembled a protest on Parliament Square in London, expecting a ‘couple of hundred people’ – before 1,500 showed up.

The group said: ‘The energy was contagious! The next few weeks were a whirlwind.

‘Six thousand of us converged on London to peacefully block five major bridges across the Thames.’

Chapters now exist in dozens of countries including the US, the Solomon Islands, Australia, Spain, South Africa and India, it said.

On April 15 protests in London began, with campaigners saying they will bring the capital to a standstill for up to two weeks.

Activists in at least 80 cities in more than 33 countries will hold similar demonstrations on environmental issues, campaigners said.

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