SUE JACKSON Therapist | Writer | Photographer | Activist

An avid blogger for the last fifteen years, I believe in the power of the word to change the world. I have participated in, and reported on, a range of protests during this period, including the successful East-West Link campaign and, more recently, our wonderful, home-grown Extinction Rebellion (XR). If you believe, like I do, that it is time for ordinary people to rise up in defence of the planet, I encourage you to explore this blog, share it with your networks, and – of course – take action.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

XR Ride-in to Die-in Moreland

XR Moreland heading down Sydney road (Click image for greater clarity)

Yesterday, members of Extinction Rebellion Moreland staged their first ever action - in Sydney Road Brunswick. The Rebels met at nearby Moreland Station before walking, biking and skating along the famous shopping street - destination Brunswick Town Hall, site of their Die-in for Climate Action.

The timing couldn't have been better as the neighbourhood was buzzing with Saturday morning shoppers, many of whom were intrigued by the whole event. I know because I did a lot of standing on the edge of the crowd with my camera, and was regularly approached by passers-by curious to hear what was going on. Of course I was more than happy to oblige.

Riding, walking, skating, chanting (Click image for greater clarity)

XR Moreland's rationale for organising this action couldn't be clearer: 

'To save ourselves, it's going to take everything we've got. We have to build upon the success peaceful civil disobedience has had and continues to have in the ongoing struggle for civil rights, women's rights and LGBTIQ rights. We have to join together and act now, uniting in rebellion to protect each other and all life on earth.' 

Balinese Drums (Click image for greater clarity)

This unity with struggles in other parts of the world was exemplified by the presence of some unique instruments at the march. Huge drums from Bali, decorated with XR motifs, were carried by teams of musicians. The unfamiliar and sombre beat of the drums as we walked along added gravitas, anticipating the Die-in to come.

And waiting to welcome the marchers at the junction outside Brunswick Town Hall was a red sight:

Red Rebels (Click image for greater clarity)

I had seen images of XR's Red Rebels before, but yesterday was the first time I had ever seen them in the flesh. With their chalk-white faces, red lips and matching costumes, these other-worldly figures moved and swayed and mimed their way through the crowd. The originator of the troupe, Doug Francisco, suggested of their aim: 'We wanted people to almost empathically feel and understand our message, which is the power of art.' It certainly worked for me. I can't stop thinking about them. 

When the time came, with the Red Rebels signing, the large crowd laid down on the road, simulating the fate that awaits us all if we don't change course dramatically - and quickly.

Lying down (Click image for greater clarity)

Luckily, the roads were not saturated as they had been for days. In fact the sun was shining and it was almost pleasant on the bitumen, doubly so when an inspiring speech by Greta Thunberg was played over the loud speakers. The short speech (above, 2 minutes) isn't the exact one, but it does give the flavour of what it was like to lie on the road, with no worries about traffic - diverted by a squad of police for the duration - listening to her inspiring words.  In her speech (above) Greta suggests we should all panic, because we need to propel ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and take action. And of course that was exactly what the rebels at yesterday's Die-in were doing.

(Click image for greater clarity)

And when she suggested further that to change the course of history, we all need to stand up, with encouragement from the Red Rebels, that is exactly what the large crowd did.  As we stood in unison, shouting 'Stand up!', I'm sure I wasn't the only one fighting tears.

Standing Up (Click image for greater clarity)