XR Oswestry & Borders stood at Oswestry landmarks demanding a Citizens Assembly on Covid-19 recovery.
On Saturday 30th May, Extinction Rebellion protested in isolation or in socially distanced formation at well-known landmarks in Oswestry. They are asking the Government for a Citizens Assembly to decide our future together during the Covid-19 recovery, a recovery that must prioritise people and planet over profit.
In their Facebook event, the group says,
“We are at a turning point in human history. The Government is driving a return to “normal” as quickly as possible. But “normal” is killing us. Our Government has a choice; prioritise profit OR prioritise health. Bailout destructive industries OR bailout people and the planet. Mass extinction OR mass participation. It’s time to trust the people! As part of corona virus recovery, we demand a binding Citizens Assembly on how to rebuild our economy, our democracy and our future.”
The protest took place at the same time all around the country – including Parliament Square in London – and was carefully designed so that people were physically distanced at 3 metres apart, with everyone being asked to wear masks in order to take part. In adherence to current government health and safety guidelines, people arrived alone or in pairs.
People brought their own cardboard signs with a choice for our leaders on, ‘Nature or No Future’ one Oswestry resident wrote on his sign. ‘No Going Back – decide together’ ‘Planet Before Profit’ wrote others. Some slogans drew attention to our shared planet: ‘Our Planet’, ‘Our Health’, ‘Our Future’ ‘Our Purpose’.
“It’s becoming more and more evident each day that the Government isn’t capable of getting us out of the coronavirus mess, or preparing us for future crises. They are more concerned with getting us back to “normal” as rapidly as possible. And the coronavirus has shown us what’s possible when the political will is there. Everything can change. Although there might not be a clear way out of either of these two huge disasters, we know one thing for sure: There can be no going back to the way things were.”
Extinction Rebellion Oswestry and Borders’ spokesperson said:
“As well as exercising our bodies we also exercise our right, under the human rights act, to protest. We protest safely for the future health and safety of our planet and generations of all life. Acting on the Climate and Ecological Emergency is essential and in this case, work we cannot do from home but can carry out safely outdoors, as per government guidance.”
As we have recently seen Shropshire Council was able to act in a matter of days in response to a crisis threatening the health and wellbeing of our communities. Why then, with a crisis of such enormous magnitude and consequently much greater risk to people, have they done nothing in relation to the local ecological and climate issues ignored by our local council. As Extinction Rebellion Shrewsbury recently commented, what they have done since they declared a climate emergency a year ago is tantamount to ‘ rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.’
Extinction Rebellion spokesperson said “Shropshire Council’s woeful inaction in producing a strategy and action plan is worrying. Whilst we understand and appreciate that Covid 19 has presented some unexpected challenges for the Council, we know the Climate Emergency has the potential to present similar, if not bigger problems.”
As public trust in the UK Government lies in turmoil following their handling of the pandemic – and their unwillingness to address the climate and ecological emergency – the protest highlights the lack of faith people have in their ability to protect people from future crises. As the Government begins to ease lockdown and reopen the economy, Extinction Rebellion will stand in defiance of going back to business as usual, saying there can be no going back to the way things were.
Wilfred Owen’s famous quote fitting for today’s world
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken. Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
As Wilfred Owen, Oswestry’s much-loved poet wrote,
‘All a poet can do today is warn.’
‘..If he had been alive today, we feel he would have joined with us to warn the government of it’s reckless lack of preparedness and inaction; commented Extinction Rebellion Oswestry and Borders’ said Extinction Rebellion Oswestry & Borders
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
The Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
About Rising Up!
Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.