May Day: XR and Kill the Bill activists arrested

Harry Jones reports on a weekend of protests in Newcastle

Harry Jones
14th May 2021
Feature Image: Extinction Rebellion
During the May Day bank holiday, Newcastle’s Rebellion of One movement, Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) latest non-violent protests, ended with four arrests as activists blocked traffic across the city.

One of the five main goals of XR is to pressure the government to focus on the climate crises. Kate, who was arrested in Jesmond said: “Our kids are losing their future because of our government’s failure to act on the climate crisis. I don’t want to sit in the road, but I have to do something”.

Another of the arrested protestors, Steve, explained: “The government is telling us it has the climate crisis in hand and is committed to ‘building back greener’ from the pandemic. And yet, in the last 6 months it has invested £27 billion in new roads and is committed to airport expansion.”

“I don't want to sit in the road, but I have to do something”

Kate, an XR protester arrested in Jesmond

XR, also prominent in within the national Kill the Bill movement, stood in protest against the newly proposed Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts bill.

This bill seeks to impose stricter laws on trespassing and the revision of stop and search, which would significantly impact traveller and BAME communities. This had led to further outcry, labelling the bill discriminatory in nature.

In reply to these claims about suppressing the right to protest, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of disruptive and dangerous tactics. These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard but will prevent large scale disruption – enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives”.

The local opposition to the bill was reflected in the large turnout at the protest on 1 May at Grey’s Monument, which saw a collaboration between the activist groups of Newcastle to broadcast their opinions on the bill. Eight people were arrested after an attempted chalking of Grey's Monument.

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