Midway through the Rebellion, inspired by another rebel from home, I joined the chat group for arrestee support. It was the end of the day of ‘Imagine the Impossible’ at the Science Museum (where I’d spent the afternoon speaking to the public from my ‘Crisis Talks’ table and, as I’d left, a road blockade had been forming nearby) and the action during the evening service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Police stations in various parts of London were starting to ‘go live’ as the St. Paul’s rebels and those who were in the road blockade started to be taken into custody. The strong ethos of care for each other within XR means that once a station is ‘live’ the aim is to ensure there is support there until all rebels at that station are released from custody. Rebels wait (if possible at all exits from the station) with snacks and drinks, and emotional and practical support with which to help those newly released from police cells.
That first evening, as my cousin was heading bedward, I was setting out on a late night jaunt to a police station on the other side of the city, where the rebels on duty didn’t have smartphones, which would enable them to complete the post-arrestee forms - essential to help keep the back office up to date with how many arrests have taken place and what for. I was at that station long enough to see three of the St. Paul’s rebels out, forms submitted online from them and the shift changed over to another pair of volunteers, getting back to my bed well past 1am after my cycle ride home through the quiet city streets.
After some time sleeping, I woke to a whole string of messages on the chat group and I read that this station was empty by the early hours, meaning my shift that afternoon was no longer needed at that time. However, other stations still needed support, so I volunteered for an afternoon stint at another station in the centre of the city. That was a much larger one with 2 possible exits, so a team of 4 of us split ourselves between the two exits to ensure any rebels exiting were supported properly. During my time there, 2 people from Animal Rebellion and one of the rebels from the road blockade were released from custody. At the same time, there were reports from the back entrance of more rebels being brought in - a road blockade was underway on Tower Bridge and other, less publicised actions were no doubt taking place across the city.
I headed back to Warwickshire after my shift and, though home that evening, my head and heart were very much still in London as I watched the requests for police station support pouring in on the chats as more and more stations went ‘live’ across the city.
It was truly humbling to be part of this support for the brave rebels putting their liberty on the line in the name of calling attention to the climate emergency and the urgency with which we need to act. Knowing they could see us as they entered custody at any, already ‘live’ station, I hoped that this would bolster them during their time in custody. And I was glad to be there for them when they were released, whatever state they were in: bewildered, unruffled, emotional, subdued, distraught, buoyant - I saw all these in just a handful of hours and felt I could offer something to all of them. This is definitely something I would be glad to help with again and the opportunities for back office support also feel like an opportunity to be truly part of a Rebellion without needing to be in London.