Amanda King, in red beret, protesting with Extinction Rebellion
UNISON member and charity worker Amanda King – a former Hertfordshire County councillor – was inspired to join the recent Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests in London. Here, she tells us about why she was there and how she and others were arrested…
I’ve been a member of Extinction Rebellion since it was formed, a year ago. I joined because, for over 40 years, promises have been made about the environment, resolutions passed, agreements drawn up – but woefully little action taken.
Normal politics and campaigning is clearly not working and, according to the UN report of 2018, we have 12 years to get to grips with our climate crisis: this is from cautious, data-driven UN experts.
I’m motivated by outrage that our government has betrayed its first duty to us – to keep us safe – and also by deep sadness that so much time has been wasted, and is still being wasted, while our beautiful blue Earth, home to all, is under attack.
My arrest took place on Lombard Street in the City of London. Two other XR protesters and I were holding hands, laying in the road and obstructing traffic.
I was arrested with 75 other XR rebels, including a 77-year-old rabbi from London, a plasterer from Nottingham and a chef from Welwyn Garden City, and taken to Brixton police station, where I was detained in a cell for seven hours.
All of us co-operated fully with the police. The police were professional at all times, aware that each of us was being arrested for the first time and likely to be confused, emotional.
I was shaking but determined when arrested. Cold, wet, tired and overwhelmed by the experience. But I did the right thing and, just like in the trade union movement, played my part in a just and greater cause.
I informed my employer of the arrest: they appreciated my honesty and have been concerned and supportive.
I continue to be active in XR. I’ve given interviews to local media to try to inform people about the climate emergency and invite them to join the local XR group I’m helping to set up.
I’m proud to be a member of UNISON and the Labour Party, both becoming more aware of the emergency facing us, even as our (current) government isn’t taking urgent action.
So I urge comrades to join Extinction Rebellion. Trade union history shows us what we can achieve when we come together.