Extinction Rebellion activists barricade Canterbury West Station

Photo by: Bill Bowkett

Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion blockaded Canterbury city centre on Monday 20 May as part of a local demonstration.

The socio-political environmental movement blocked off Station Road West next to Canterbury West train station between 4 and 6pm, causing major disruption and traffic to cars and buses during rush-hour.

Around 50 volunteers took part in the afternoon's protest, including students from the University of Kent.

Member Keith Bothwell said: "We appreciate that this action will cause disruption and inconvenience, and apologise for this."

"But if we do not all act immediately to address the climate and ecological emergency, there will be catastrophic consequences for us all in the very near future."

Pamphlets were handed out to members of the public during the demonstration. It reads: ”The world is facing an environmental catastrophe as a result of climate change and species extinction. Governments, companies, city and county councils have to take action."

“Our future is at stake and we have to act. When the problem is sorted, we’ll all go home.”

The Canterbury branch is demanding that Canterbury City Council:

  • declare a climate and ecological emergency;

  • cancel the contract for the construction of the “disasterous” £9 million Canterbury West multi-storey car park;

  • develop fully sustainable carbon-neutral solutions to transport in the city

One activist told InQuire that the demonstration was part of a “week of action” to highlight issues relating to the environment.

On Wednesday, the group 'welcomed' newly elected city councillors to their roles at a swearing in ceremony at the Guildhall. The following day, the group held a celebratory garden party outside county hall in Maidstone, where Kent County Council discussed a motion on declaring a climate emergency.

A similar motion was voted down at a Canterbury policy and resources committee meeting last month.

Conservative councillors argued it would be "unfair" to "bind" the next council to the commitment just before the local elections.

The group claims to use nonviolent resistance to protest against climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of ecological collapse. Structured in small groups connected in a decentralised, inclusive, and complex web, the group formed in October of 2018 and have grown to become an international presence in just a couple of months, with groups springing up across Europe, America, and other countries.

The group’s membership has since rocketed from 40 at the beginning of the year to 270 now.

Nationally, the group commits to a zero carbon policy by 2025, as well as the creation of a Citizen's Assembly.

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