At least two local residents were arrested in the past week as part of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations across central London, which saw members of a group from Sutton meet Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has captured the attention of the world’s media as she gave voice to her generation’s concerns over the state of the planet.
The two XRSutton members who were arrested were released without charge, after a series of protests which were generally peaceful and good-natured. Across the capital, there have been more than a thousand arrests in what has been described as “biggest civil disobedience campaign in modern British history”.
XRSutton now has more than 80 members. The group includes school teachers, students, local business people, artists, local residents, political candidates and an OBE.
“At 11am on Day One of the protests, my partner, my two-year-old son and I helped to blockade Marble Arch,” said local eco-businessman Peter Alfrey, one of the founders of XRSutton.
“The police had given a 12-hour amnesty before beginning arrests so we were not at risk. We are very proud to be part of this historic event and I am particularly proud that my two-year-old son has performed his first act of rebellion in what I do believe will be a generational struggle that our children will fight for a fairer, safer and more environmentally friendly future.”
Another XRSutton member ended up providing emergency accommodation for a couple of out-of-town protestors who were arrested and not released until it was too late to get back to their own beds.
Local mother Gina said, “I offered to go to Sutton Police Station to provide arrestee support. I arrived at 6pm and after a nearly six-hour wait I greeted the first of 13 people that had been arrested earlier that day on Waterloo Bridge.
“By 3.30am, all had been released under investigation for failing to comply with Section 14 of the Public Order Act and obstruction of the highway. The ‘rebels’ came from all over the UK and included a PhD student, a mother who was caught up in a ‘swoop’ while having lunch, and a grandmother who stepped in to protect younger people from being arrested.
“Most arrestees caught the night bus back to the Marble Arch base, but three stranded people stayed at my house.”
XRSutton members chatted with Thunberg at the Oxford Street blockade.
The teenager initiated a global youth movement in August last year after starting a weekly “School Strike for Climate”. The butterfly effect that she has created has led to worldwide climate protests including the London protests.
Thunberg has met the Pope and addressed the United Nations, European Parliament and met with British political leaders at Westminster, although Prime Minister Theresa Mayhem was too busy to join the meeting.
Thunberg says that in response to climate change we should act “as if our house is on fire”.
“People caught up in the disruption and blaming Extinction Rebellion for causing trouble is like blaming a fire alarm for waking you up,” she said.
In the coming weeks XRSutton will be presenting a petition to Sutton Council to declare a climate and ecological emergency in the borough. The petition has already been signed by Carshalton and Wallington LibDem MP Tom Brake.
XRSutton will also be sending a list of objectives to Viridor, who are responsible for the Beddington Lane incinerator and the extinction of local wildlife at the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve.
According to Sutton Council sources, the pollugting Beddington Lane incinerator – which is contracted to handle radioactive waste as well as burn 300,000 tons of rubbish each year – is now rated as the biggest security risk in the whole borough of Sutton.
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