Corona hit society suddenly and left most people in uncertainty. Obviously, activism was affected, too. Even small demonstrations were regarded as anti-social. Consequently Extinction Rebellion had to face a new challenge: How do you keep on acting for climate justice while taking Covid-19 seriously?
Activists had to cope with new personal hardships: Facing unemployment, taking care of the sick or even losing loved ones. Less impacted activists still had to manage the isolation, the insecurity, and the growing worry that climate justice was no longer on the public’s mind. Quickly, we were reduced to a core of half of the active group we had been.
As if that was not enough, we had struggles within the movement, too. A small minority of valued activists thought Corona a fraud, while the majority insisted that Extinction Rebellion remain a science- based movement. How else could we demand the government follow scientific advice in the face of the climate crisis? We had to consider how inclusive a movement could be without losing its credibility.
IT WAS A STEP OUT OF THE CRISIS
In April, the Ecological Democratic Party won a court case giving us back our right to peaceful assembly. We learned how to do small, safe demonstrations.
It was a step out of the crisis. We claimed the space again to let our voices be heard. However, there were fewer people to address and their minds seemingly were on more pressing matters. No flyers, no megaphones, no press. The news was full of Corona; the climate crisis seemed peripheral.
Finally, we dared to re-launch peaceful civil disobedience through sit-ins at a distance. We got used to firmer police repression. We would not mobilise but stay in small groups. We remained determined and became more creative. We let images speak instead of the masses, bringing material instead of people: A sick bed for our mother Earth, a big drilling rig to remind Stadtwerke München of their actions.
WE WILL STAY DETERMINED AND LOUD
Just like everyone in the world, we face new challenges with the pandemic. We are privileged to be one of the groups which can survive and learn new ways of doing things. We will stay determined, loud and clearly demand everybody’s right to live. Be it the most affected people in the global south, millions of species or future generations: Extinction Rebellion will continue to fight for a healthy planet as the basis of life for everyone.