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Extinction Rebellion volunteers protect the London Marathon

The London Marathon coincided with four days of continuous protests from Extinction Rebellion around the capital. Aware that many were concerned about disruptions, members of the eco-outfit actively protected the event to safeguard its reputation. 

Extinction Rebellion members decided that showing discretion was the best course of action last weekend. 

In the run-up to the London Marathon, the climate group had been holding four-day demonstrations in Parliament Square leading many to believe the event would be actively targeted. 

On the contrary, the group’s senior representatives met with race organisers to strategise on how to protect one of the ‘crown jewels’ of British sport. On the day of the event, Extinction Rebellion even volunteered members to diffuse any potential obstructions at different checkpoints. 

‘We believe a handful of people might want to do an action to block the race,’ said 63-year-old Michel, an Extinction Rebellion devotee from Brussels. ‘We don’t believe it’s necessary.’ 

The eco-outfit showed out and had presence around the marathon, with its synonymous symbol visible on flags and placards picked up by national media. The key distinction with its outing on this occasion, however, is that its message was peacefully observed and those running were encouraged. 

‘We are doing it specifically today to show people we are good people because the press don’t give us any credit for the work that we are doing – they spin a narrative that casts us as the bad guys when, in fact, our movement’s all about love,’ said Lu Curtis, 52, from Wandsworth. 

By successfully preventing a civil display of anger from stealing the limelight, the environmental group has thus far honoured its pledge to swap previously disruptive tactics for diplomatic efforts in 2023. 

A poll conducted by YouGov late in 2022 revealed that more people disliked Extinction Rebellion than championed it following several years of radical action. It followed by announcing ‘attendance over arrests’ in a bid to garner some public favour and ensure its all-important message isn’t lost amidst squabbling and hysteria.

This is a markedly different approach to fellow activist groups such as Just Stop Oil, whose continued performative stunts intend to reflect the desperate nature of our climate situation. Only last week, a protestor was arrested for throwing orange powder over a snooker table at the Crucible arena. 

We wrote a piece in October last year examining whether getting the public’s attention at any cost is worth alienating them. We’ll leave you to make up your own mind. 

Either way, there’s plenty of positive press to start the week for Extinction Rebellion, which has scarcely been the case over the years. We’re now intrigued to see if support for the cause will grow ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer. Let’s hope so.