Action Wellbeing, A.K.A. The People Holding Your Hand While You’re Locked To A Bathtub

LONDON–It takes only two minutes following Claire, a member of Trafalgar Square’s Action Wellbeing team, before we encounter an arrestee in need. I never learn this young woman’s name. Within an hour, however, it is hard to imagine that she isn’t my niece, or the neighbor’s college-bound daughter. We find her lying, propped on a sleeping bag on the pavement, with her right arm locked via a wide metal tube to another woman who is sitting in a yellow bathtub–yes, I realize this is a difficult image to keep in the mind. Picture a ceramic bathtub sitting on the […]

Disability’s Seat at the Nonviolence Table: Thoughts from a Rebel-Vicar in a Wheelchair

Can a Wheelchair Stop Violence? “You are visibly, tangibly vulnerable, so I think it adds weight to the nonviolence…The chair speaks, so I try to make it an icon, a prophetic witness of vulnerability and power.” LONDON–I encounter Zoe, a Vicar in the Church of England, after stumbling upon the outer edges of a Eucharist service in the center of Trafalgar Square. Three priests light candles and lead prayers in front of a makeshift altar, while behind them a Samba band beats a mix of excitement and nervous tension into your stomach. Police officers’ yellow jackets, lining up across […]

“We Will Get Food To This Rebellion”: Running a Kitchen for Thousands While the Police Close In

TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON—Every time I’ve dropped by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) kitchen in Trafalgar Square today, I’ve had to worry–will it still be there when I’m hungry next? It’s 9:30 p.m. as I write this, and by now, even though there was a thirty-person dinner line snaking from the tent when I left, with volunteers serving food and drinks nonstop, by now that tent might be ripped down and all that food, those cooking pots, supplies, and utensils could be locked in a police wagon–without a single arrest. Why target the food? Why would the police target a kitchen […]

Spiritual Leaders Speak: Bridging Faiths in the Name of Extinction Rebellion

LONDON— The October Rebellion kicks off in light rain, and a coalition of Extinction Rebellion (XR) spiritual groups—including XR Christian Climate Action, XR Muslims, XR Jews, Sikhs, and XR Buddhists—band together despite the nip-your-cheeks wind to stride onto the road of Lambeth Bridge. It is a heavily used pedestrian and vehicle cross-point over the Thames, a short hop, its northern end practically in the Palace of Westminster’s shadow.  By 9 a.m, it is filled with the smell of incense burning, the voices of a four-part Christian choir singing XR’s Demands like they’re a holiday carol, samba drums, scores of […]