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All you need to know about Extinction Rebellion’s five-day protest

By ellie pipe, Tuesday Jul 16, 2019

With a party-like atmosphere, a big pink boat and a giant model of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion kicked off a five-day protest on Monday.

Protesters intend to occupy Bristol Bridge throughout the week and the area has become a hub of activity with a series of talks, entertainment and even some morning yoga.

Tuesday will see singer Billy Bragg address the crowds from the big pink boat on the bridge and then he is due to perform on College Green, where XR Youth will be leading a demonstration as the non-violent protest escalates across the city from midday.

Official road closures remain in place on Baldwin Street, High Street, Victoria Street and Wine Street near the entrance to the Galleries, and the police have cancelled officers’ leave to maintain cover for the duration of the uprising.

The protest is part of a synchronised campaign taking place in cities across England, Wales and Scotland.

Campaigners are demanding the government tells the truth about what is driving climate change and calling for urgent action to halt biodiversity loss and cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. In Bristol, the focus is particularly on rising sea levels.

Crowds turned out to join the occupation on Monday

XR protesters participated in a morning yoga session on Bristol Bridge on Tuesday

Calling for others to join the movement, Zoë Jones, a Bristol resident who works in international development, said: “Sea levels are rising but so are we. Our international rebellion in April radically changed the debate.

“In the months since, public concern about climate breakdown soared to its highest ever level. We urge everyone to join us at the Summer Uprising to call on our Government to be on the right side of history.

“By acting now, the UK could be world leaders in the transition to a zero carbon economy and in averting catastrophic climate change and ecological breakdown. We have returned to the streets to demand that politics backs up its words with policy.”

A number of drivers and passersby have expressed their support for the action, but others commenting on social media have expressed anger at the disruption and questioned the logic of holding up traffic, arguing idling vehicles contribute more to air pollution.

On Wednesday, campaigners are organising a family-friendly ‘critical mass’ ride, which will be supported by local groups such as Bristol Cycling.

Riders will assemble on College Green at 6pm and leave around 6.30pm. There will be a second pick up point in Queen Square at 7pm and the cycle is expected to last about an hour.

Campaigners have also revealed they intend to take the protest to outside the Ministry of Defence on Friday, although details are still being kept under wraps.

The police state that every effort will be made to balance people’s rights to protest alongside the need to keep disruption to a minimum.

Bristol Bridge is a hub of activity

Chief inspector Mark Runacres said: “We’re proactively engaging with the protestors, local businesses and the wider community to ensure people are being kept informed of any developments that may impact on their daily lives.

“Due to the potential scale of the protest and the impact it may have, we’ve had to cancel officers’ rest days to make sure we have sufficient resources in place over the five days.

“Any unplanned and lengthy road closure could impact on the ability of emergency services to respond to incidents and we and our partners are factoring this into our plans so we can continue to keep the public safe.

“Public safety will always be our main priority and we operate a zero-tolerance approach to any form of anti-social behaviour and disorder. Officers will be robust in dealing with anyone who engages in this kind of behaviour.”

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council added: “We are working closely with the police and engaging with the protestors to ensure there is a fair balance between our legal obligation for people’s right to peaceful protest and our need to keep the city moving.

“While we are trying our upmost to minimise disruption to other citizens, we must also ensure public safety. We have therefore closed some roads in the city centre where there is protest activity.”

Read more: In photos: Extinction Rebellion’s Summer Uprising day one

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