The Guardian’s recent revelation that Extinction Rebellion (XR) had been classed as an extremist ideology in now hastily withdrawn advice issued by counter-terrorism police (Anti-terror police target school climate strikes, 11 January) is the latest example of a wider campaign seeking to undermine public support for our non-violent movement. In July, we saw the release of a report on XR by the former head of the Met’s counter-terrorism command, Richard Walton, done for the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange. His report makes a series of overinflated and discredited claims about XR, and it was subsequently revealed that Policy Exchange itself has taken funding from big energy companies.
Walton’s report came out in the context of a persistent media campaign that sought to paint XR in the worst possible light, and it appears to have been the basis of the foolish action by counter-terrorism police. Yet despite all this, XR is as strong as ever. Our group remains resolutely committed to non-violence in our use of direct action, and 2020 promises an escalation in our campaign for action on the ecological and climate and emergencies.
There is nothing “extreme” about this approach to a collapsing ecology. Those who seek to paint the common sense of defending our planetary home from its becoming an inferno as extreme are heavily invested in maintaining a crumbling status quo. There is a profound irony to this of, course, as climate collapse is the biggest possible threat to anything like the status quo that can be imagined.
Prof Rupert Read
Spokesperson, Extinction Rebellion