Last weekend at a brightly coloured community centre in Cardiff, plans were being formed. Tasty food and excitement over ideas for the summer. Tense atmosphere – can we pull this off?
A string of good luck. We need legal observers – somebody walks in and offers to train people up. But we’re still short of medics. Somebody speaks up – ‘I’m a medic.’
One thing’s for sure – it’s gonna be great. This year Climate Camp Cymru is going back to basics with a light action-based camp targeting coal in south Wales.
A momentum has been building. Last August we camped in Merthyr Tydfil where local residents have been opposing Miller Argent’s ‘Land Reclamation Scheme’, otherwise known as Ffos y Fran: the largest opencast mine in the UK.
Just one month after the camp, activists stopped work at the mine by suspending themselves from a net above the site’s access road.
Next, as Merthyr residents took Miller Argent to court over noise and health complaints, activists and local folk alike biked from Ffos y Fran to Rossport making links between communities resisting fossil fuel extraction.
And in April, Rising Tide literally put their necks on the line blockading a railway used to transport coal from the mine to Aberthaw power station.
The first thing that strikes you about Ffos y Fran is how massive it is – a huge chunk of the Glamorgan countryside has literally been ripped out to feed our economic system’s addiction to fossil fuels. Burning coal is destroying our climate, while opencast mining damages the earth and the health of local people.
An increasing number of communities in south Wales are set to suffer at the hands of the coal industry, with Celtic Energy, Draeth Developments and others applying for new mines and extensions across south Wales.
Fossil fuel corporations cannot be allowed to progress unchecked. Join a growing number of ordinary people taking direct action, and exploring alternatives, to stop the madness that is destroying the earth.
This August 13th -17th, come to Climate Camp Cymru.
It’s been on repeat on my laptop since I heard it and the video is great too. Share it with as many of your friends, family and work/collective colleagues as possible:
Also taking place last week was another action, this time against RBS at the British Banking Association’s Annual International Banking Conference.
Activists from Climate Camp and Tar Sands Network welcomed key players in the Tar Sands destruction, RBS’ CEO Stephen Hester and President and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, Gordon Nixon with a piggy pinata.
Amelia has more photos and a write-up over at her site but here are two reasons why this year’s Camp will be targeting RBS:
- RBS is now 83% owned by UK tax-payers – yet it continues to invest in the Alberta tar sands, the most destructive fossil fuel process ever
- RBS also funds UK-based fossil fuel extraction projects such as open cast coal mines which are destroying the landscape and contributing the continued destruction of the environment
More info about to get involved with this year’s Camp can be found here.
Finally, Schnews reports that GM crops are “back in the spotlight” this week after the EU side-stepped applying regulations governing GM use by putting the decision on whether or not to grow GM back into the hands of national governments.
This could be bad news, as although individual EU states now have increased power to ban GM crops within their own territories, authorisation will be easier to achieve at EU level – effectively opening up European agriculture to more GM crops.
As a consequence Schnews predicts these developments will lead to “a resurgence in public opposition to – and direct action movement against – GM crops.”
Well they didn’t have to wait long, as the same day as the EU made its announcement activists in Spain sabotaged two experimental GM Maize trials belonging to Syngenta in the municipality of Torroella de Montgrí (Baix Empordà, Girona, Catalunya).
According to the commique issued by the activists:
“GM agriculture makes it impossible to develop and consolidate social models and models of production, distribution and consumption that differ from the dominant model, based on agro-ecology and the struggle for peoples’ food sovereignty. Because of this, we fundamentally reject both GM crops and the techno-industrial capitalist society that makes them possible and necessary (… necessary to ensure that the powerful few consolidate their domination of the global population, and perfect the business strategies).
We therefore call for people to take the step to action to destroy their genetically modified crops and the social order perpetuated by those that promote them.”
You can read the full statement and get some more images over at Indymedia Barcelona.
In addition to the action against RBS this morning five activists from Culture Beyond Oil targeted the British Museum to protest against the fact its complicity with oil giant, BP.
The activists beautifully and delicately poured oil around the museum’s iconic Easter Island sculptures (carefully avoiding spilling any *on* the sculptures) in a symbolic gesture that highlights just how quickly seemingly advanced cultures can rapidly collapse through exploitation of the natural environment.
Emily James, the Director of the crowd-funded film about the environmental direct action movement, Just Do It, was there to capture the action.
This link and the effects it has on the way oil and corporate interests are perceived in society is highlighted in a recent report by Platform. Called ‘Licence to Spill’ the report reveals the way in which oil companies use cultural sponsorship to create a “social license to operate” by providing “ﬁnancial support that … creates a perception of making a positive contribution to our society”.
Given the sheer scale of the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention the oil industries’ legacy and likely future instances of human rights abuses and environmental destruction it’s right to call out oil companies for their pernicious for their attempts to provide a sanitised gloss to what they do.
Actions like these will hopefully give public bodies and institutions the impetus to act in the public good and ditch “cultural sponsorship” from the destroyers of civilisation.
There’s a lot of news to update you with in this weekly round-up – most of it split between legal news and forthcoming events. So without further a-do, let’s go…
The first – and perhaps biggest – news-story of the past seven days has been the Coalition’s scrapping of the contentious Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. As of now the police will not be able to stop and search individuals under Section 44, however the law wills till apply for vehicle searches.
The change in authorisation for applying S44 comes after a ruling earlier this year at the European Court of Human Rights which found that the UK’s application of S44 violated the right to respect for private life contained in article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.
While this is broadly great news for activists, Kevin Blowe urges continued vigilence by raising the spectre of the ever resourceful cops failing to adhere to the new guidelines or falling back on the still active Section 43:
“Let’s see whether the government’s “interim measures” are adhered to. Equally, we need to see whether the police officers simply rely instead on section 43 powers to stop and search people- it was this part of the Terrorism Act that was used against Mattsson in a another incident just two days ago.”
More good news for climate justice activists came from Merthyr Crown Court last Friday as the drivers and legal observers on the action had their charges dropped while those that locked on and prvoded other direct support pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Crucially, Section 35 of the infamous Malicious Damages Act 1861 (the section carrying maximum life sentences) was dropped against all 18 activists which acknowledges that this wasn’t intended as a malicious action as originally alleged.
As a result it’s unlikely prison sentences will be handed down with restraining orders and compensation being considered. The remaining 13 activists facing charges will return to Merthyr Crown Court on August 13th and supporters are being urged to turn out to show their support.
And another victory was announced in Manchester last week when climate activists that locked on to machinery at a peat bog extraction site at Chat Moss, Salford were acquitted by Salford magistrates court.
The activists, Iain Hilton from Manchester Climate Action and Sonny Khan from Earth First! North West had been accused under Section 4a of the Public Order Act (1986) for allegedly causing “harassment, alarm or distress” against the employees of two companies, Joseph Metcalfe Horticultural Ltd, and AW Jenkinson Forest Products Ltd, during the protest that took place on 15th April.
After hearing evidence from prosecution witnesses, the magistrate told the court that:
“while the protest was “certainly an irritation and certainly cost [the companies] money” he had seen no evidence that the defendants intended to, or did cause harrasment, alarm or distress as the prosecution had alleged and found them not guilty without waiting to hear evidence from the defence solicitors.”
A request for a restraining order banning the two defendants from the peat bog site at Chat Moss was also rejected.
Peat extraction leads to 3m tonnes of CO2 emissions each year in the UK alone, among other disastrous consequences.
If any of these actions have inspired you to find out more about climate issues, the corporations behind the destruction of the planet or you want to take a stand yourself then here are a few events coming up over the next few weeks:
Break the banks warm-up – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=141042685907892&ref=mf
Climate Camp has organised a teach-in about RBS and it’s part in climate change. The event, which takes place in Leeds on Saturday 17th July from 10am to 6pm, will cover:
- all you need to know about the damaging projects and criminal corporations that provides regular finance for Tar Sands extraction
- how finance works and how we can use it as a leverage point to stem fossil fuel extraction
- examples of ways to translate this information into a *fun* outreach event
Some accommodation is available and food will be provided. There’ll also be goody bags to help you get started on your own successful outreach.
If you can’t wait till August to target RBS then you should come along to the Break the Banks warm-up action which happens on Tuesday 13th July (that’s this week!).
The event, organised by Climate Camp and the Tar Sands Network, kicks off at 8.15am. The meeting point is Bank station. For info on the action and logistics take a look at the Facebook Event.
Finally, telling a comprehensive about climate change and climate justice is key to building a successful movement and telling the wider world about the issues at stake.
The workshop takes place on Saturday 31st July from 3pm to 6pm and is aimed at people involved in social movements, community organizing, direct action groups, progressive NGOs and anyone who is interested in engaging with them.
Donations of £3 are being asked for – although no-one will be turned away for lack of funds.
To RSVP or for more info email kevin [at] platformlondon.org
We had a wicked gathering in Edinburgh last weekend and are now all busy getting the camp together. We talked about how the camp can support existing struggles in Scotland such as action against open-cast. Many people signed letters to submit to the Hunterston coal power station consultation process. Links were made about how to build solidarity with workers in polluting industries. There was also a discussion about fuel poverty and how this relates to climate justice.
While there wasn’t exactly a decision about a mass action there was certainly loads of ideas floating around for actions and how to organise these. We also talked a fair bit about the reasons behind coming up to a camp at Edinburgh to target RBS and also how this links to other aspects of climate justice. This is a really exciting phase in the climate camp journey so please come up to the next gathering in Glasgow on the 31st of July and 1st of August.
In case you’ve not seen it yet, there’s a beautiful, powerful and inspiring newspaper that’s been created by a group of people involved with Climate Camp.
It’s been published ahead of this Summer’s action against The Royal Bank of Scotland and sets out all you need to know about the Bank’s complicity in climate change.
If you’re online then you can view, download or share the Newspaper below:
Or alternatively if you’re in London you can pick up copies to distribute at Housman’s Bookshop. If you want to order your own copies then email london [at] climatecamp.org.uk.
Welcome to the first Weekly Round-up from the Climate Camp blog.
The idea is that once a week we find and share the latest news, events and action reports from across the web that covers issues of interest to UK-based activists. Without further a-do sit back and feast your eyes on all the great stuff below….
The subject of effective planning and organising for successful social change is an important one for grassroots groups. Knowing how and what to do, and doing it right is vital for sustainable movement building. It’s certainly been a topic of discussion at Camp for Climate Action gatherings this year and in the wider climate justice movement post-COP15.
Steve illustrates his point by observing that when we plan campaigns or actions we set out where we are now, what our aims are, then list the activities we’ll use to meet our aims. But, Steve, writes “real life isn’t like that!”
He urges people to try to always keep the bigger picture in focus:
“Sure, we know we can shut down trading in the City or a military base for a day – before they return to business as usual. We know about short-term effects, and those actions are entirely valid. But what about the longer term goals, the trajectories? We know the Iraq invasion went ahead anyway, but what about future military adventures.”
This way of thinking helps open up possible opportunities for further action and fosters a positive mindset.
In fact, putting the above quotation into a practical context, Steve remarks that in training workshops he is struck by the way that events which on the face of it seem negative have been absorbed and turned into positive energy. Key to success in these situations “lay in the movement’s ability to respond well to [negative situations]”.
This is a powerful thought and Steve strongly believes this approach to organizing and planning can help prevent dejection, frustration and burn-out –essential factors to ensure sustainable and successful movements.
But if you prefer action to theory then you could do worse than head over to Woodford where a call out has been made to all “Free Thinkers, Eco-Villagers, Stoners, Ravers, Rewilders, and Anarchists” to get together and create London’s first Freetown.
Meanwhile Bristol and Bath Rising Tide are hosting an evening about train blockading, hold-ups and the Malicious Damages Act.
This event will focus on direct action on the railways and the implications of the Malicious Damages Act – a law from 1861 that has been used consistently against activists on train blockades and which still carry a maximum life sentence.
There’ll be speakers sharing experiences of stopping trains from the recent actions against the Ffos-y-Fran open coal mine and Drax that disrupted coal-fired power stations as well as speakers from train blockade at Sharpness Docks thirty years ago that stopped the transportation and dumping nuclear waste.
It’ll be a great opportunity “to hear personal accounts of the actions, see a film of the Sharpness train hold up and discuss the pros and cons of putting your neck on the line!”
It all kicks-off at 7.30pm (or 6.30pm if you want to join for a cheap dinner) on Sunday 11th July at the Kebele Social Centre, Robertson Road, Easton.
It’s your chance to be a frontline reporter, a presenter, camera person or editor and you don’t need any experience at all!
The workshop is being held on Saturday 24th July 2010 from 10am-6pm at Forest Cafe, 3 Bristo Place, Edinburgh EH1 1EY and it’s free/donations.
There’s also a film night on the evening of Friday 23rd July giving you a chance to come and meet everyone and watch some films.
Places are limited, so please fill in the application form here and remember: lack of experience is no barrier!
Commitment to making social change happen through video is much more important!
It’s only seven weeks to go until the camp! Below is some Camp specific information and call-outs followed by a bunch of other events that may spark your interest.
1. EDINBURGH GATHERING THIS WEEKEND
The Edinburgh gathering this weekend (Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th) is going to be a biggie! Lots to get through at this exciting stage of planning the summer’s camp. The agenda and gathering info went out in a special separate newsletter yesterday but in case you missed it, you can see and comment on it here.
2. FROM SITE WORKING GROUP
Call outs below from the Electrics and Visuals sub groups of site. And we still need coordinators for: Eco-wash, tools librarian, toilets, tat down. Get in touch with site [at] climatecamp.org.uk if any of these grabs your fancy or you want to find out more!
The electrical power crew needs to expand! No experience necessary! If you don’t want to get landed with too much work, then don’t worry, there can be a specific manageable task for YOU.
Power providers are secured. The tasks from here are: Teaming up power providers with central users. We need one person per power provider to liaise with users before camp and during. Two people to focus on all issues for 12V users. One person to focus on all issues for 240V users. I am also looking for a coordinating BUDDY to share the workload as much as possible and to check-in with how we’re doing on a regular basis.
If possible, the electrix power buddy would also be involved in liaising with all power providers, central users (medics, media, comms etc), neighbourhoods (who provide their own power, but might need support), securing sufficient batteries and cables, and planning transmission routes around site.
For working groups – have you got your batteries? Can you do with less? How much and when? For neighbourhoods – are you on it? Do you know what you need/want, are you getting it? Please email me through site [at] climatecamp.org.uk with any questions you have, how much you feel able to take on and so on (put “Electrics” as the subject line). And please, please volunteer to be part of Electrix. How much more satisfying will dancing at a climate camp party be when you’ve laid the cables to power the sounds system? Cheers!
1. The site group is look for some people to take on some fun/ crafty projects for camp, everything from banners and signs to bunting and installations. No experience necessary just a bit of time and a willingness to explore your creative side.
2. A few questions for neighbourhoods and working groups 1. are you having a space/ structure at climate camp?
3. do you need any signage/ decoration which you don’t already have?
4. what specifically is needed? Let the site team know and we will get on it.
3. STOP THAT TRAIN!
At Kebele, July 11th An evening about train blockades / hold ups and the Malicious Damages Act An evening of film and discussion about direct actions on the railways against climate chaos and nuclear power 7.30 pm at the Kebele Social Centre, Robertson Road, Easton hosted by Bristol and Bath Rising Tide. Come earlier and enjoy a cheap meal at the Kebele Cafe – 6.30 onwards.
Recent weeks have seen 18 people arrested following a blockade of the railway from the Ffos-y-Fran opencast coal mine to Aberthaw Power Station by Bristol and Bath Rising Tide. 30 years ago on July 8th activists from Bristol, Bath and Stroud held up a nuclear waste train bound for Sharpness Docks where the waste was being loaded onto a ship to be ultimately dumped into the Atlantic. In 2008 climate change activists held up a coal train bound for the giant Drax powerstation.
In all three actions the activists arrested were charged under the Malicious Damages Act of 1861 – a Victorian piece of legislation that still carries a maximum sentence of life. Come and hear personal accounts of the actions, see a film of the Sharpness train hold up and discuss the pros and cons of putting your neck on the line!
4. HOW TO BUILD A WIND TURBINE COURSE
… In Spain! Introduction to Wind Power- Weekend course, 20-22nd August, Sunseed Desert Technology, Spain Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics- Weekend Course, 27-29th August, Sunseed Desert Technology, Spain How to build a Solar Thermal Panel- 5-day course, 6-11th September, Sunseed Desert Technology, Spain Prices between £100 and £450 depending on course and means. If you or anyone you know are interested please send us an email with your details: info [at] v3power.org
5. PEACE NEWS CAMP
Join people from across the broad spectrum of the British peace movement for five days of exploration, celebration and empowerment! This year’s themes this years themes include: feminism and peace; sharing our skills; challenging the military; engaging with other movements; radicalising our lives; and debating nonviolence (see below for more info).
Plus over 40 workshops, including: The launch of David Gribble’s new book ‘Children Don’t Start Wars’, dismantling the Gandhi myth with Milan Rai, gender perspectives on violence with Cynthia Cockburn, a whole-camp discussion on where next after the election? and much, much more!
The Peace News Summer Camp is an inclusive, democratically-run five-day experience-in-miniature of the kind of world we are trying to bring about. Bring your own contribution to a space that bridges the usual divisions in our movements and our society, where we pay as much attention to how we bring about change as to the changes that are so desperately needed.
This year, feminism joins our standing themes of peace and justice. We will be learning from other movements, struggling with challenging issues, creating greater cohesion in a segmented peace movement and debating nonviolence. Workshops will range from theoretical discussions to practical planning for actions later in the year. There will be over fifty years of activist experience at the camp, along with fresh faces. Fed by local organic fruit and veg (lovingly cooked by the wonderful Veggies of Nottingham), we’re camping in a family-friendly and renewably powered way from 23-27 July near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, to make the world a better place.
THEMES FOR THIS YEAR’S CAMP
Feminism and Peace Gender perspectives on violence, nonviolence and activism Building our Skills, Sharing our Skills Nonviolent direct action training, consensus decision making, building a strategy, working in affinity groups, public speaking skills, radical music and more.
Challenging the Military Let’s get the military out of our lives and out of other peoples’ countries Engaging with other Movements and Struggles What can we learn from other like-minded campaigns such as radical climate activism, animal rights, student activism and European peace campaigns Radicalising our lives Food, education, power production and more Debating Nonviolence How can we take effective action?
HOW TO BOOK
Entrance to the camp costs £15-£60 depending on income. For under 14 year-olds the camp is free. The camp is organised on a small budget by a group of volunteers; we are relying on the entrance contributions to break even so please give what you can afford. The cost per day of 3 meals will be £6-£10 for adults. See here: http://tinyurl.com/3315uxq You can pay online at the Peace News webshop: http://tinyurl.com/knuqpa. Please send cheques (made out to Peace News) with your name and address to Peace News, 5 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9DY. If you prefer to book by phone with a credit card, please ring the Peace News office on 020 7278 3344. Office hours Monday-Friday (except Wednesdays). You will be able to pay at the camp but orders for food should be received by Friday 16 July.
Please contact us with your order: http://peacenewsgathering.info/summer/contact-us/ Website: www.peacenewscamp.info Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/334b54z
6. CLIMATE DIALOGUE SPACE IN CANCUN/COP16 Call-out
Invitation to participate in the open and independent Climate Dialogue space in Cancun/COP16 From November 29 to December 10, 2010, the 16th U.N. Conference of the Parties (COP16) on Climate Change will be in Cancun, Mexico. Many networks, organizations and movements in Mexico and Latin America, are organizing an open and inclusive, alternative and independent space, the “CLIMATE DIALOGUE”- a gathering of the voices of the peoples and the movements confronting the climate crisis; where we will holding conferences, workshops, seminars, panels, meetings, and a general exchange of experience, etc. in addition to the demonstrations and marches.
Mexican organizations will organize the physical space and logistics in Cancun along with the potential help of international organizations. We will get periodic update on the preperations of this space, which is for social movements, indigenous organizations, peasants, women, urban-groups, and for civil society in general, with a clear political stance: anti-capitalist, no political parties nor governments, no religious institutions or private companies, no to the carbon market, and no to false solutions to climate change (such as CDM or the REDD mechanisms.)
While we have few political differences, the Climate Dialogue space is important to hear and honor other voices confronting the positions being negotiated between governments within the COP16 meeting. Regardless of whether you can be physically in Cancun or not (you may consider organizing local events in your respective region or country), we are interested if you are willing to endorse and promote this call for an alternative and independent space to the official COP16 summit in Cancun. You can endorse at any organizational level; networks, organizations, and collectives. Groups that are willing to endorse, we are requesting that your group sends us the names of the networks and /or endorsing organizations, and if you are able and willing to participate in the organization and coordination work toward Cancun- name and email address of a point-person. The organizations will appear in alphabetical order. Those who can join, please send your information as soon as possible. We are currently building a website and mailing list for articles and other information relating to the COP16 in Cancun, and all the necessary information on how to get involved and participate.
Wow, that’s it for now!
Email process [at ]climatecamp.org.uk by Monday nights to submit things for the newsletter.
People wandering through Vauxhall Park yesterday between 5 and 7 would have seen, on the hottest day of the year, a circle of people clad entirely in black and trying on black veils. If it weren’t for the ten or so mysteriously shaped objects hidden in bin liners and the nervous smiles, any passerby would have been forgiven for thinking they’d come across an inappropriately located wake. Were someone to have stopped and enquired what the strange crowd were doing they would have been told they were an acting company preparing a play. This would have been a lie. We weren’t an acting company, but we were about to stage a performance.
Ten minutes later, after a brief taxi-ride across the Thames, and we were walking two by two, in a slow and solemn parade. We had unwrapped mysterious packages to reveal ten black oil drums, branded with the bright green BP logo, and filled to the brim with a thick, black, smelly liquid. We were heading for the Tate.
Our austere procession clashed well with the glamorous summer dresses of the guests arriving for the Tate’s summer party, an exclusive event to celebrate, amongst other things, twenty years of BP’s sponsorship of the gallery. As the lines of veiled figures moved closer, guests and security seemed completely dazed by the sight, staring transfixed the first pair came right to the entrance and sloshed thick black molasses all over the pristine white Portland stone. They watched unmoved as we threw tin after tin of black sludge down the stairs towards the gallery doors, and we threw bags of duck feathers burst in the air, floating down and lodging themselves in the spill.
One incredibly posh lady shouted “cowards” and tore the veil off one activist’s head, before her husband took her arm and led her away saying “leave it dear, they’re just imbeciles.” By the time anyone else had reacted, the black figures were gone.
Far away from the austere activists in black, two more activists, dressed in flowery summer dresses and bright smiles, had walked (perhaps suspiciously slowly) towards the entrance of the gallery, showed their tickets and walked inside to the lavish champagne gala. After nibbling canapés and sipping free drinks for a while, a dark black substance began to leak from beneath their dresses. The girls had rubble bags filled with oil attached to their thighs with strap-on harnesses (making it perhaps the first impromptu, queer, oil-based performance installation Tate Britain have ever experienced.) Initial attempts to contain the spill from the dresses were unsuccessful and soon the leak had turned into a full-blown gush, with oil unstoppably spreading across the gallery floor.
The distinguished guests started to notice, the camera phones came out and their were hushed whispers of “darling, darling is this…art?” The reply came, “I think they might be…protesting.” Whilst the aficionados in the audience tried to figure out whether they were witnessing art or activism, a mess or a masterpiece, Tate staff rushed to contain the spills, both inside and out. Both on the gallery floor and the entrance, tissues came out to try and contain the spill (an effort only marginally more pathetic than BP’s own in the Gulf).
One of the Tate cleaners spoke with me afterwards. While journalists tried to find a story about protesters leaving the staff to clean up, he was more than happy to be a part of it once he knew what it was all about. “It’s good that people do things” he said, “it makes people listen.” He used to work in Brazil for an oil company, involved with alcohol based oil derivatives. In other words, with molasses in the oil industry. Not only that, but he even worked in biological clean up.
Institutions like the Tate, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, the Science and Natural History Museums and the National Galleries are wonderful things, rightly cherished by the British public. This is exactly the reason why BP and others want to be associated with them – so that when we see a green flower logo or a yellow Shell we think of culture and paintings and theatre rather than oil slicks, climate change and crimes against humanity. This connection must be broken. As oil companies continue to obliterate eco-systems, turbo-charge climate change, displace indigenous communities, destroy rainforests and kill, torture and intimidate those who oppose them we will not let our cultural institutions use their bright and shiny reputations to clean up oil corporations’ poisonous activities. As long as they do, they are complicit in their crimes.
If nothing else, our performance that night proved that art can be messy and dangerous and provocative and angry and beautiful without tainting itself with blood money. It demanded that creativity should take as a precondition, as a deal-breaker, freedom from complicity in crimes against the planet and its people. It said, very simply, that if we want to continue to paint landscapes, we must have a landscape to paint.
Last year the Camp for Climate Action faced extraordinary policing at the G20. The Climate Camp in the City was not only surrounded and kettled, but between midnight and 1am was removed with force and violence from a quiet street in London, with the sole reason that the protest was obstructing traffic.
These past few days, social and ecological justice groups protesting against the G20 in Toronto have come under even greater police violence and oppression. Today the bedlam continues, as the protesters’ convergence centre is raided and locked down, just as the Earl Street centre was raided at the London G20 last year. The vigil for the 500 arrested activists has been kettled and beaten back, just as the vigil for Ian Tomlinson was kettled and silenced on April 2nd last year.
Ray, a woman from the Indigenous peoples’ mobilisation against the summit, said:
“This is real life, this is the real Canada. This happens happesn everyday but now you can see it. this is g20 freedom of speech. For us, Native people this is what we know. This is Canada.”
But there is also hope. The Peoples Assembly for Climate Justice built on the People’s Summit in Cochabamba, trying to find a way forward after the collapse of the climate talks in Copenhagen in December, a set of talks which were hurting rather than helping an ecologically just politics.
Just as at Copenhagen, the arrested are starting to be released, one by one. Having destroyed the protests, found excuses for the $1billion policing bill and attempted to paint the G20 summit as legitimate and the protesters as criminals, everyone is expected to move on. But as we’ve shown here in the UK, we won’t let them get away with these actions. The successful legal action against the Kent Police over the absurd policing witnessed at the Kingsnorth climate camp shows that even though these governments and corporations expect us to back down, we keep on resisting.
Over the past few years, the Climate Camp has resisted huge measures to stop us protesting, but lucky for us, we’re just don’t seem to get the message. So while the G20 leaders continue to send out communiques to the rest of the world, acting as if they have any legitimacy left, we’re getting our own act together and heading up to Edinburgh for the UK Gathering, to plan our actions against RBS and for Climate Justice.