With a heavy heart I have just been arrested for the first time in my life as part of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations taking place in London. Over many years I have written letters, marched, emailed and met my MP regarding my concern about climate change. I have abided by the rules to no avail.
There has been no action by government. Yes, parliament declared a climate emergency – but these were empty words. Heathrow is being expanded, fracking continues, coal mines are to be reopened. No action and time is running out to limit the already inevitable chaos caused by climate change.
Being arrested wasn’t a decision taken lightly. I have been a law abiding citizen and worked alongside the police during my career developing community services (volunteer bureau, community family centre, parent support).
My family and I have been in critical situations and the police have come to the rescue and I am forever indebted to them. I know they are overstretched with immediate issues of knife crime, drugs etc to deal with (though note there were enough police for peaceful protestors but not enough for knife crime!).
Yet I still decided to take arrestable action as we are facing immense suffering and irreversible effects of climate chaos. It is criminal for the government not to be acting on all the scientific facts and to continue with their destructive policies.
Almost on a daily basis there is mention of a catastrophe caused by climate change and warnings by the water board that within 25 years we won’t have enough water in the UK reservoirs. Before our homes are flooded we are likely to experience food shortages leading to civil disruption and the list goes on.
Yes, I sat in the road, took a cell for the night and my arresting officer could have been on his patch and yes, I would like him, his child and family to have the best possible future. There was mutual respect between us, he told me that I was the nicest person (arrestee no doubt!) he had met in his 10 year career. In the police van with me everyone was respectful of each other and we had a young woman three months pregnant who kept throwing up – no doubt she was concerned for her unborn child.
I also acknowledge that as a middle class white person I was privileged to have this respectful relationship – had I been from an ethnic minority almost certainly this would not have been the case. In fact, one of our group witnessed a group of men from an ethnic minority who had nothing to do with XR being singled out for “stop and search”. There are many complaints being made regarding aggressive policing over the fortnight – I was one of the lucky ones.
I have been exhausted and felt very emotional during the experience and just hope my arrest makes a difference – that the government will act now for all of our sakes and the future of life on earth.
Image Credits: Seana Lanigan .