” he trails off. “I thought, yeah, let’s go.”
Melissa, a courageous woman in her 50s, has always met life with courage. After early motherhood, divorce, and a first career in business, Melissa moved to the UK and built another career working with survivors of domestic violence, before setting up a climate emergency centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Last year, Melissa was arrested more than a dozen times on climate protests and spent 100 days in prison. Despite this, she still continues to fight for her cause and continues to raise awareness and put pressure on the government to deal with the climate emergency.
In 2021, more than 100 protesters were imprisoned, marking a massive change in the relationship between state and protesters. The emergence of Extinction Rebellion in 2018 presented an opportunity to raise awareness and put pressure on government to deal with the climate emergency, and the energy on the streets was exhilarating. People were blocking roads and getting arrested in 2019, but what many will always remember is the music. Music flowed through the streets with the marchers, and under all the melodies something shifted for many.
In 2021, the police response to environmental protesters became more aggressive, with an attempt on a blanket ban on demonstrations in London through a section 14 order in October 2019. During the pandemic, police were given new powers to stop public gatherings. As Britain opened up again, environmental protesters found themselves in a much more confrontational situation with the police, the courts and the government.
The move into greater confrontation between protesters and the state has also been driven by activists, who feel that the government is not taking the necessary steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, such as investment in home insulation or ending new oil and gas licences. Activists are now pushing for more disruptive protests, such as blocking main roads, in order to raise awareness and get people talking.
The fight for climate justice is ongoing, and Melissa is just one example of the many brave individuals who are standing up and fighting for what they believe in. Despite the government’s attempts to crack down on protesters, the fight for climate justice continues, and it is up to all of us to continue to raise awareness and take action.