Column: Small Sacrifice For A Big Cause

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: Climate change is a big issue in this part of the world. The city is currently in the grip of Extinction Rebellion protesters who have launched a two-week long campaign to highlight the dangers of climate change. Members of the eco- justice group, drawn from various parts of England, are everywhere in the city where hundreds of arrests have already been made to clear the streets of protesters.

Evening Standard ran a story about an enraged 63-year-old former Conservative party treasurer rushing out of his Westminster house to confront the agitators. Dressed in his bathrobe and slippers, baron Andrew Fraser, approached a woman protester and started banging her drum with his fists as other marchers and passers-by looked on.

“ I’d had enough of the noise and disruption. It’s intimidating. I liken it to the marching bands in Northern Ireland. We have had sleepless nights and the traffic has been blocked. Sometimes you need to drive somewhere,” the baron, an investment banker told the paper.

The chaos in London was a replication of coordinated protests in more than 50 cities around the world including New York, Paris, Berlin and Madrid. But this capital city was among the worst hit with the protesters through the sheer weight of their numbers outflanking the police officers and blocking key sites including Trafalgar Square and Whitehall.

Ministers called upon Scotland Yard to clear the streets. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson expressed sympathy for the protesters but criticized their tactics and described the activists as “un-cooperative crusties.” He called upon them to abandon their “ hemp-smelling bivouacs.”

There were targeted protests at Smithfield Market in Farrington while activists wearing boiler suits glued themselves to the glass doors of the Department for Transport building in Horseferry Road. On the prospect of being arrested one of the activists was quoted by the newspapers as saying, “ I would not like to get arrested but if that happens when I am exercising my right to protest and deliver a good life for my children then I will take it on my chin.”

As the protests began at least 100 tents were set up by protesters along Marsham Street, Westminister, outside the Home office and close to many government departments. Police quickly handed them notices to move out of these areas failing which they were threatened with arrest.

Among those arrested in London was a 83-year-old man who was filmed spraying ‘ life not death for grandchildren’ on the Treasury building. There was a ‘rebel wedding’ on the Westminster Bridge while some of the activists donned cricket whites for a match in Parliament Square.

Huge traffic disruptions have left hundreds of motorists stranded and fuming but protesters appear to be in no mood to relent. “ I totally understand about the disruption but we are really in a planetary emergency. Sorry, but we have got to do this,” one of them told Sky News.

There are thousands who believe that hardships such as the ones the people of the city have been facing for the last few days should be endured willingly if the planet Earth has to survive the challenge of global warming and climate change.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)