"Rightwing critics fulminate against the protesters, but the public is finally waking up to the gravity of their cause
In the Mall, up Whitehall, or crossing Trafalgar Square early this morning, the climate activists looked like rush-hour office workers and civil servants – mainly 30 to 50-year-olds, with no dreadlocked tree-huggers, SWP banners or black-masked anarchists looking for a punch-up. Chanting about the climate emergency, frankly, they seemed a bit sheepish, not used to it. Their ordinariness makes Extinction Rebellion, or XR, especially effective: farmers, scientists, doctors, Cumbrians and other local platoons stand at the 12 key roadblocks.
After their successful capture of central London in April, local cells or “affinity groups” all over the country have trained and planned for this protest. Deciding who would be “arrestable” for highway obstruction – and who wouldn’t be, because of jobs or young families – they were primed to expect a tougher police response after rightwing press complaints against the friendly policing last April, when officers were caught dancing at a blocked Oxford Circus."