Europe’s top climate activists are planning a ‘large-scale civil disobedience campaign’ of highway blockages, hunger strikes and disruption at ‘federal properties’ in the US in August, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Leaders from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and other European groups known for their large-scale disturbances are rapidly expanding their US-based franchise, Declare Emergency, to create mayhem on this side of the Atlantic.
In a videoconference, which DailyMail.com attended, the Europeans taught their US allies how to raise money, boost membership and recruit scores of ‘arrestable’ members to spearhead the most aggressive protests.
In Europe, those groups have assembled tens of thousands of protestors and brought cities to a standstill, causing millions of dollars of losses, but it remains unclear if they can replicate that success on this side of the pond.
‘What we want to do is create a large-scale civil disobedience campaign on the climate catastrophe in the United States,’ Roger Hallam, the co-founder of XR, told the online gathering of a few dozen US-based activists.
European climate activism has led to rough clashes between demonstrators and police, like this month’s protest against oil use in Hoogvliet, the Netherlands. Organizers want to bring this to the US
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam (left) wants a summer of climate protest mayhem in the US. Thibaut Cantet, an activist for France’s Last Renovation, said it was vital to get activism off the ground in America
Roger Hallam (top left) explained to Declare Emergency members how to boost their profile and attract members in the US
Hallam, who co-founded XR’s US-based sister organization Declare Emergency last year, said he had raised $1 million in the past week and laid out plans for aggressively recruiting 1,000 members in the coming weeks.
The seasoned activist, speaking from the UK, said his organizational tactics were ‘not that complicated, have worked in many countries, and we see no reason why they shouldn’t work in the US.’
Though small, Declare Emergency, has made headlines in recent months, including when two members smeared paint on the case of a Degas masterpiece at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in April.
They’ve also blocked roads in the capital and Maryland and rallied outside Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s home in New York City. Several members have been arrested and fined; the art gallery protestors face jail time.
But to date, the group hasn’t matched the scale of Europe’s climate chaos, notably XR’s week-long series of rallies in London, which closed drown bridges and shuttered much of the city center, causing millions of dollars of losses in 2019.
Members have planted trees in Parliament Square, superglued themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace and other landmarks, vandalized artworks in major galleries, and shut down runways used by private jets.
Though many people support efforts to tackle global warming, others eschew the tactics of XR and other hard-line outfits, which have shuttered roads, highways, airports, offices, and other public venues.
Hallam said such a massive disruption was possible in the US, citing the decades of civil rights protests that shifted attitudes on gay rights and led to the mass racial justice protests over the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Declare Emergency, which wants President Joe Biden to declare a national climate crisis and use his executive powers to sharply cut pollution, coordinates with overseas activists through the so-called A22 Network.
Declare Emergency protestors Tim Martin (left) and Joanna Smith, both 53, face jail time for daubing red and black paint on the case protecting Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in April
Police fire a water cannon against Extinction Rebellion activists who were blocking the A12 in The Hague for the seventh time in May
That grouping includes France’s Last Renovation, which temporarily halted last year’s Tour de France cycling race, and Germany’s Last Generation, which has been repeatedly raided by German police in recent weeks as a ‘criminal organization.’
Another member of the network, Just Stop Oil, famously arranged for two members to throw tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London in October last year.
In the teleconference, Declare Emergency members did not say what protests were being planned, but discussed hunger strikes and highway disruptions, like those staged by Save Old Growth last year around Vancouver, Canada.
Protests would be focussed on Washington and New York City, they said.
Tim Martin, Declare Emergency’s social media organizer, who has been indicted for conspiring to damage the Degas statue at the National Gallery of Art, said he expected more attacks on ‘federal properties, like the museums.’
‘We struck a chord there … so that’s a good thing,’ said Martin, 53, of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Though the US activists have made headlines, several members discussed the difficulty of remaining cohesive, and complained about getting bogged down by ‘ideological purity’ tests rather than taking action.
Thibaut Cantet, an activist for Last Renovation, speaking from the south of France, said it was vital to launch Europe-style climate protests to the US — the world’s top economy and biggest greenhouse gas polluter.
An Extinction Rebellion protest the use of fossil fuels in the City of London, a major financial center, in May
An activist sprays paint on the Guildhall in London during Extinction Rebellion’s summer protests in London in 2021
‘Nothing’s going to work if it doesn’t happen in the US,’ Cantet said.
The FBI did not immediately answer DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
In recent weeks, Europe’s climate activists have amassed 60,000 protestors in London, and derailed the continent’s largest private jet trade fair by chaining themselves to aircraft to protest against the sector’s carbon emissions.
Demonstrators stormed Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in November and blocked private jets from taking off, as others cycled around the runway where jets were parked, disrupting the flow of traffic for wealthy travelers.
UN experts say planet-heating gases are making Earth dangerously hot, but the US, China, and other world governments have set ambitious targets to reduce the risk by switching to clean energy sources over the coming years.
Americans are less worried about climate change than their European counterparts.
While 31 percent in the US want to rapidly switch to renewable energy sources, another two thirds want to continue using oil, coal and natural gas as well as the cleaner alternatives, according to Pew Research Center polling.