Climate change activists Extinction Rebellion are coming to Manchester to stage a huge four-day protest on Deansgate from 10am tomorrow (Friday) morning.
At least 750 people have signed up to attend the Northern Rebellion protest, which is billed to last four days – with organisers suggesting it could possibly run through to late Tuesday morning.
The protesters are aiming to point out, through non-violent direct action, the ‘huge contradictions’ between Manchester’s announcement of a climate emergency alongside plans for airport expansion.
The protest will also highlight the illegal levels of air pollution that have been identified on 152 Greater Manchester roads – of which Deansgate is one – and the plight of environmental refugees around the world.
The four-day protest will feature talks from climate and ecological experts from around the north. Climate scientist Prof Julia Steinberger, one of the authors of the UN climate change report, which warned we have just 12 years left to limit global warming to 1.5C to avoid a climate emergency, is expected to make a speech.
Organisers are also expecting an address from Amazonian tribesman Kawá Huni Kuin from Brazil’s indigenous Huni Kuin community, who will share stories of his people’s plight and their relationship to the rainforest.
There will also be a ‘rescue boat,’ which activists hope to fill with donations for child refugees in northern France. Much-needed items include blankets and sleeping bags, jeans, joggers, t-shirts, long-life milk, sugar, nuts and tinned fish.
Exctinction Rebellion are hoping that the boat’s presence will help to draw attention to the plight of environmental refugees – people forced from their home and land by rising temperatures, sea level change and extreme weather events.
Many of the protesters will be camping out throughout the weekend in a ‘Rebel Camp’, with tents due be erected in the street near to Kendal’s early on Friday morning, whilst others will be housed by local churches or with like-minded protesters local to Manchester.
The camp site will be manned throughout the course of the weekend up until Monday night, with organisers stating there will be a “small legal risk with camping out as this will be an ‘unauthorised’ event” but that they will be “liaising with police throughout.”
A similar action by the group in London in March, however, saw over 1,000 protesters arrested by police.
Extinction Rebellion is an international movement which was established in May last year. Roughly one hundred academics signed a call to action in support of the movement in October 2018. It has staged protests all over the world using non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse.
Extinction Rebellion member John Cossham, 53, from York said: “I will be attending the Northern Rebellion in Manchester this weekend because I am extremely worried about the lack of political action about the climate and ecological emergency, which experts say is the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.
“I hate causing disruption as I just want people to lead happy lives, but the individual actions we’ve been told to do to ‘save the planet’ are really difficult in the current system.
“I will be peacefully protesting to try to persuade the government to adopt measures to address the crisis. We need bigger than the second World War efforts when the whole country changed focus on winning that war. We need all sorts of people to join us, anyone who cares about our children’s future, which looks dire with the current inaction.”
The event is free and open to anyone concerned about the current climate situation or who wants to understand more, though the organisers are asking that you respect Extinction Rebellion’s principles at all times, including non-violence.
If, on the other hand, you are just trying to go about your business and don’t want to get involved, you’d probably be well advised to steer clear of Deansgate for the next few days.