Just Stop Oil steps up occupation of Westminster
Just Stop Oil campaigners demanded an end to fossil fuels as they continued to disrupt central London
By Sophie Esquire
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Thursday 06 October 2022
Climate group Just Stop Oil (JSO) launched more direct action on Thursday as part of its occupation of Westminster.
The group blocked roads and bridges in central London ssince Saturday of last week. On Thursday, police arrested 32 activists for blocking roads.
Activist Zelda from Essex was one of the activists who decided to take to the roads. She was later arrested by the police for participating in the action.
She told Socialist Worker just before her arrest that she was “concerned, appalled and angry about climate change and the lack of action by those in power to stop it”.
“Every day we hear of new fossil energy projects, from new fracking to new gas exploration that our government is supporting,” she said.
Zelda added that she participated in direct action protests against nuclear war and for migrant rights for some time.
“Direct action maybe boring for some, but i think it shows how serious we are. I hope people will see us blocking the road and at least ask what our protest is about.
When JSO initially blocked the road, public reaction was mixed, with some drivers getting out of their cars to argue with activists to move on. But passers-by also cheered and a woman with a child stopped to tell JSO she was impressed and proud of what she was doing.
From the road near Trafalgar Square, activist Gill told Socialist Worker: ‘All governments around the world, including ours, have agreed they should limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees because that would be catastrophic if we didn’t.
“But nobody is doing anything, so we are trying to get the government to act. People have been protesting for decades, so this feels like our last resort.
“The pakistan floods were because of climate change. People are dying but that’s not news because they’re not British and they’re poor and black.
“They have lost their homes and their crops, their food and their livelihoods and now they are at greater risk of suffering from water-borne diseases. This is the reality of the climate crisis.
The protest around Trafalgar Square was also joined by nearby LGBT+ action.
While JSO activists are clear that they will continue to block roads and bridges for the foreseeable future, many agree that their movement needs to grow.
Bowen from Cardiff, who was also sitting on the road blocking traffic, told Socialist Worker: “We need more people. I hope what we are doing can be a spark that can ignite a flame because we need to act quickly.
“We can no longer have a flippant approach. We have to do everything we can because we are completely desperate. I don’t want to sit on the road, but I have grandchildren and I want there to be a future for them.
But Bowen also added that there is hope in the actions of ordinary people. “I think recently things have started to fall into place, and the strikes are part of it.
“People are starting to think that perhaps the best way to get change is through streams outside parliament. I think a lot of us want a different kind of democracy.
“Civil disobedience can have results, we have seen it so many times throughout history. And now it’s time to do it again. The climate crisis is already destroying lives, we desperately need more people to join us, this is not going away.
As activists continue to disrupt central London, JSO and climate activists from other groups continue to go through the legal system.
At Horsham Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, an Insulate Britain supporter was acquitted when the judge found the road blockage was ‘proportionate’.
JSO says he will continue his occupation of Westminster until new gas projects are cancelled.
- For a video with one of the protesters, go here