UK: Stop HS2 and Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion have finally decided to refrain from trying to take over control of the STOP HS2 protection camps between London and Birmingham, and instead they are offering to HELP the front line activists who actually live there, and to LEARN direct action from them, according to unconfirmed reports from the camps.
Some of the eco-warriors at the Harvil road and Denham camps in Colne Valley near Uxbridge invited Extinction Rebellion to join them at the protest sites last year, and HS2 Rebellion was the name that was eventually chosen to be used by the new recruits. Unfortunately a power struggle developed fairly soon, with HS2 Rebellion apparently insisting that they controlled some kind of hierarchy and were in fact the “leaders” of the climate movement, and all the protesters were obliged to take orders from them.

Extinction Rebellion released a statement about how HS2 Rebellion was becoming the umbrella organisation for all the protection camps and they listed their “criteria and values” which they claimed all the activists had to agree to and abide by. This was regardless of the fact that the eco-warriors had originally started the camps with the Green Party four years before XR came along to attempt to take them over and control them.
HS2 Rebellion started their own fundraiser with £32,000 being donated for the Colne Valley protest by more than 1000 people. The fundraiser stated that the money would be distributed to all the protection camps, but HS2 Rebellion refused to share anything with camps that did not agree to join Extinction Rebellion and obey their rules.
Two camps which agreed to join Extinction Rebellion and obey them were given £16,000 between them, but the Harvil road and Denham camps at Colne Valley near Uxbridge which remained autonomous and independent got absolutely nothing.
The STOP HS2 organisation which started the local residents protest campaign in their own local communities against the high speed rail link 13 years ago asked for financial support but HS2 Rebellion did not want to help them so they also received nothing.

Some activists objected that HS2 Rebellion was crowd funding off the back of a 12 year protest campaign and saying to the public who were donating that the money was going to actions and legal fees for all the camps, yet the activists were having to start a crowd fund for their own legal fees.
Activists at the camps were being told they needed to meet the XR “criteria” to be able to get access to the money raised, and they said they never had this problem for three years “until the XR control freak fascists who wanted to cause disruption and bullying came along”.

Eventually HS2 Rebellion produced the receipts for the money that was allocated and spent, and they showed that two camps got a total of £16,000 but the Colne Valley camps got nothing.
Some activists accused HS2 Rebellion of illegally obtaining money by false pretences or even fraud, since the fund raiser page had made it clear that the money donated would be distributed to all the camps without any terms and conditions involving joining Extinction Rebellion and obeying their rules.
Extinction Rebellion originally came to a protest march that they tried to get the Harvil road activists banned from, and then they started HS2 Rebellion in May 2020 which failed in their attempt to monopolise the campaign.
Extinction Rebellion tried to impose a great deal of authority and control and to police other people’s behaviour according to their “values and principles” which were designed to dominate, control, and ostracise those activists who think for themselves.

Extinction Rebellion gathered a lot of “intelligence” and expected everything to be run past them, and once the protest started building momentum with direct action HS2 Rebellion attempted to move into the camps, creating camp agreements which were rules the eco-warriors had to live by and which were policed by XR members.
They then tried to kick off any activists who were not living by their rules, which pretty quickly failed especially as all the camps were started by local residents and eco-warriors who lived full time at the camps, and HS2 Rebellion would have made them homeless, so that did not succeed either.
Extinction Rebellion tried to police everything that anyone who wasn’t a member of XR did, whilst controlling the behaviour of all those who call themselves XR, giving the impression that Extinction Rebellion may well have been infiltrated by undercover police and agents working for corporations (like HS2) and the oil companies.
Some eco-warriors believe that if Extinction Rebellion had it their own way everyone would just wave flags and sing songs whilst being escorted by the police, and the sooner the genuine activists become autonomous the better.
However the biggest concern for a lot of climate activists is that XR is fake astroturfing controlled opposition being funded by banks, hedge funds, and oil companies to negotiate with the government and promote the false solution of “net” zero emissions which would allow fossil fuel industries to continue to pollute the Earth and kill humanity.
One of the Harvil road and Denham activists at Colne Valley reported that she had spoken to journalists that she knew when XR would not show them the receipts for the money they had raised in the name of the eco-warriors’ protection camps.

“HS2 Rebellion tried to have a monopoly on the fund raising and the media.
“We have never needed people’s money.
“It just makes things safer in trees and tunnels when we have A grade equipment.
“We are all doing dangerous things and that makes us all family”.

Another eco-warrior said “each camp has it’s own set of rules and very different sets of people, it’s a very wide cross section that needs to be catered for without judgement or favour, all come from different places with a common aim which is to stop HS2 and the destruction of the environment”.
The eco-warriors at the Harvil road and Denham protection camps sent a message to HS2 Rebellion in May 2020 as a result of the claim by Extinction Rebellion that all the STOP HS2 activists were members of HS2 Rebellion and were under the control of XR.

What actually happened subsequently at the STOP HS2 camps was exactly what the front line activists had predicted would happen.Following is the message the eco-warriors sent to HS2 Rebellion in May 2020:

“We feel any response, in the interests of openness and collectivism is best made in the open forums rather than to any specific individuals.
“We have a statement we wish to put out, which isn’t responding just specifically to the individual ‘Rebel Action Agreements and Principles Values’ etc, but a broader statement.
“At the point of writing this message there are ten people sat around a camp fire on the front line of resistance, living in occupation, with several concerns and criticisms to raise about what is developing around us.
“Firstly, we feel like we are being spoken on behalf of.
“We believe these parameters aim to homogenise this movement.
“We believe that this struggle’s strength lies in its diversity and creativity.
“The parameters set out in this document aim to homogenise the movement under the banner of HS2 Rebellion – we must ask, who are you?
“The persons involved in making these decisions are unknown to many of us – even some who have been on the front line for more than a year now.
“Who are you speaking for when you create these parameters within which those who oppose HS2 are being told to act?
“We welcome HS2 Rebellion as an affinity group in the same way that we see ourselves as an affinity group within the movement – but reject what feels like an attempt for HS2 Rebellion to become the movement itself.
“We will not stand for the co-option of this movement and for its monopolisation by a single ideology.
“We are concerned as to how these rules and expectations will play out – namely the allocation of capital, both social and financial.
“If HS2 Rebellion continues to monopolise the movement, funds, and media, the security and safety that these bring will be consolidated to the groups branded as HS2 Rebellion and reduced in others.
“There are certain things in the parameters set out which feel oppressive and disempowering, replicating the very state that we are fighting against, such as:

“# Limitations to who is and isn’t allowed to talk to media (citing the select group contacted to be ‘spokespersons’) – this is inherently exclusionary and runs the risk of preserving and furthering class division.
“# We do not identify as ‘Rebels’ or ‘Tree Protectors’ – we find those labels dehumanizing and limiting.
“Ignoring the deeper and broader intentions of people in this fight the reason the emphasis on the correct media/language is effective for this specific campaign is that it is respected within the eyes of the law/current capitalist/patriarchial/imperialist paradigm.
“We do not want to be reduced to winning only this particular campaign.
“We are focused on building a long term movement for social change, that does not and cannot rely on receiving the system’s respect due to it’s oppressive nature.
“# Decisions about asking people to leave camps or actions are serious decisions made with potentially huge implications for the individuals targeted – this is exclusionary and counter to creating reformative systems.

“This is not an exhaustive list, but simply a reaction and critique in the moment.

“We do not wish for this campaign to be fractured into factions, but equally we cannot allow the whole movement to be co-opted into a homogenized package.
“One group will not win this alone, HS2 is one symptom of the many ailments of our society, there is not one single way that this fight will be won – if and when this fight is won, the struggle will not end there”.

Signed: Crispy of the Jibley family, Desmond, Elrack, Fairylax, Jack, Lykos, Night-quimble, Quercus, Reg, Stitch.