One year on – Scottish International Rebellion – North Bridge

The following is from an XR Scotland rebel who was present at the protest, one year ago today, at North Bridge, Edinburgh.

“The night before the action, we stayed up into the wee hours making banners. I was very proud of our yellow one listing the three demands. Its violent fluorescent yellow was easy to spot, highlighting the aims of XR and increasing the safety of the rebels holding it on the road. The lecture hall used for the briefing was completely full. The crowd ranged from parents with babies to a woman in her 80s. Later in court, we kept hearing references to XR ‘members’ in contrast to ‘the public’. Thinking about the group of people in that lecture hall, I still feel very strongly that we are the public. The protest in Edinburgh was part of the UK-wide Spring Rebellion, during which thousands of concerned citizens came together to demand change.

We formed groups to walk to the bridge with. There were two retired GPs in my group who had written down statements to read out to the police when asked to comment. They understood the climate crisis as a public health issue. Amongst the drums and flags, protesters manned a colossal skeleton puppet (Marvan) crafted by Theresa. When the police’s vans quickly formed a line blocking our protest from view, luckily Marvan was able to loom over them. In court, even the police described the atmosphere as ‘carnival-like’ and ‘jubilant’. I spoke to someone who used to be an academic at Princeton: “We were teaching about all this as far back as the 70s, and nobody listened”. She said that she was afraid of what the future holds. Her placard was a Greta quote, “some people can just let go of things, but I can’t”.

While we held a banner on Princes Street, the police started pushing people to the ground and dragging them off the road. I was tripped up by a policeman and was quite shaken up. Somewhat naively, I had not anticipated them getting heavy handed so quickly. When I was arrested while sitting on North Bridge in the rain, Joy was singing ‘We are Family’ and she was speaking words of political truth and compassion from the megaphone. The police had to decommission buses to transport all the arrestees to various stations across Scotland. In the van, I remember one of the policewomen saying ‘you lot make us feel like the criminals’. Chatting to the group of mostly strangers I had been arrested with and hearing how empathetic and level-headed they were made me feel a deep sense of calm about what I was doing.”

-XR Scotland rebel