Photo story: Climate rebels take over London

Extinction Rebellion is currently holding its second shut down event in London and will occupy the streets of the capital for two weeks.

by Joshua Lowe

For the second time now the environmental campaign group, Extinction Rebellion, are holding a shut down London event. On October 7th, thousands of people from across the UK travelled to the capital to dance, sing, and sleep on the roads.

Started in 2018, the group aims to bring attention to the climate and ecological emergency and protest against government’s inaction over it. They have gained international attention through their use of unorthodox protest techniques and unusual attire. The outpouring of creativity has drawn comparisons to the hippy movements in America during the 1960s and 70s.

Extinction Rebellion have three main demands. It wants the government to “tell the truth” by declaring a climate emergency, stop the biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and a create a citizens’ assembly to take action.

As the impact of climate change is becoming more apparent, movements like Extinction Rebellion are drawing attention to the fierce urgency of the crisis.

Joshua Lowe spent four days living on the streets with them, photographing the experience and trying to discover why all these people are potentially willing to put their liberty on the line.

Impromptu dancing sessions break out all the time. These guys were in front of the British Home Office next to a lorry that had been parked across the street to block it. © Joshua Lowe
One of many unique ways the protesters attract attention is through Shoaling, a modern dance form wherein one person leads a group of people in a fluid group dance. The reaction of the guys in the background reflects the usual response they get from passersby. But it does make them stop and engage. © Joshua Lowe
Many of the protesters went to London with the intention of being arrested. Protesters who are willing to be arrested are called the arrestables. The number of people arrested during this protest is likely to be well above a thousand. © Joshua Lowe
Stewards and organisers of the events hand out these cards to the arrestables. They contain the numbers of solicitors and how to best interact with the police. © Joshua Lowe
Extinction Rebellion has a large base of very concerned parents who come out to these events with their children, some even camp in ‘designated’ family areas. © Joshua Lowe
One of the main ways that protesters slow the police down from clearing sites is with lock-ons. They come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from chains, padlocks to wooden boxes and zip ties. Specialised equipment is required to remove them. The one here is a pipe lock-on; two people put their arms into either end of a pipe and handcuff chain their hands together. This is particularly difficult for the police to move as there is a risk of harming the protesters. © Joshua Lowe
On the first day, this girl was seen dancing in front of a police line, showing the peace hand gesture at every opportunity. © Joshua Lowe
The police were stopping the protesters from blocking the staff entrance to the Home Office building. Some of them were also seen talking to the protesters. Here, a police officer flashes a friendly smile. © Joshua Lowe
Along with the journalists, police also film the protesters to have some evidence in court and to track the numbers of people at a location. © Joshua Lowe
The Red Ladies of the Red Brigade can be found wandering around Extinction Rebellion protests, they are often sent in mass to help calm down over agitated crowds. It is rare to find one smiling but here she was facing 20 tourists who were fascinated by her costume. © Joshua Lowe
The protesters came prepared for rain but many were caught off guard by a sudden rainstorm on Tuesday. The downpour started just as the police charged in to remove a lot of people from outside Downing Street. One man stood defiant in the face of the police and the weather. © Joshua Lowe
This man was following the police around playing Star Wars’ The Imperial March or as its more commonly known Darth Vader’s Theme. The police didn’t see humour in this. © Joshua Lowe

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