Extinction Rebellion Youth begin four-day protest by blocking Clifton Suspension Bridge


By Billy Stockwell, Climate Correspondent, and Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief
with additional contributions from Siavash Minoukadeh Deputy Digital Editor

Extinction Rebellion Youth (XR Youth) began their nationwide weekend of environmental activism with a two-person blockade of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, with more events planned across the city in the coming days.

The planned actions mark a new approach for the environmental campaigners, with smaller, more targeted interventions, rather than the more controversial mass civil disobedience and arrest strategy previously used by the group.

The group’s demonstrations are specifically demanding a Climate & Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill, drafted by climate activists, scientists and policy-makers, to be legislated by the UK parliament. XR Youth Bristol is a separately-organised youth wing of Extinction Rebellion, for young people up to the age of 30.

Two members of the group, including a Bristol University student, began demonstrating on the landmark at 9pm yesterday | Simon Holliday

The two XR Youth members began their demonstration on the iconic landmark at 9pm yesterday, Thursday 28 August, by locking themselves together on the road in an ‘arm lock’.

The two young women were expected to be joined by more members of the XR Youth group from 8am this morning to protest together, calling attention to the climate crisis. However, both protestors were removed and arrested by Avon and Somerset Police at around 11pm last night.

In response, Avon & Somerset Police decided to close the bridge to all pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles from midnight (Thursday) and have said it could remain shut until 6am Tuesday.

XR Youth, however, say they only plan to protest on Clifton Suspension Bridge today, Friday 28 August.

Poppy Silk, a Bristol University physics student and member of XR Youth, told Epigram that throughout the weekend of action, activists will be ‘asking Bristol: “Will you listen to us now?”. We have signed petitions, gone on marches and yet the government is still delaying in taking action to fight the climate emergency’.

Silk also explained that the focus on this rebellion ‘is different to [XR’s] previous ones in that the focus is no longer on arrest and disruption’.

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‘The actions taken will be targeted on those in power,’ she added, ‘and the tactic of mass arrest will not be used. This will hopefully make our rebellion more accessible.’

“Will you listen to us now?”. We have signed petitions, gone on marches and yet the government is still delaying in taking action to fight the climate emergency’ Poppy Silk, XR Youth member

More actions were carried out by the group in Bristol throughout the day, including on the Harbourside area, between the Arnolfini and M-Shed.

The organisers of the demonstration have said every precaution has been taken to ensure the event adheres to Covid guidelines.

Those attending have been asked to do so with masks and hand sanitiser and to follow social distancing rules at all times.

On-site sanitation stations have also been set up, whilst extra face masks are being made available and safety stewards have been put in place to ensure the rules are being followed throughout the occasion.

Featured: Epigram / Lucy O'Neill

Did you attend the XR protests today? Let us know.