The climate emergency is here, Boston. From blood-red sunsets caused by record-setting Pacific Coast fires 2,500 miles away to the most named Atlantic storms this hurricane season (who knew the list goes to Iota??!), we’re getting a taste of what the next decades have in store. Man-made climate change and ecosystem destruction have tipped the world into a cycle of unpredictable climate and mass extinctions that threaten everyone everywhere, with impacts felt from our local communities to the entire planet.
Extinction Rebellion began with grassroots organizing in towns and cities across the United Kingdom in 2018 to demand truth and action in response to the climate emergency through regenerative, local efforts. Massachusetts residents organized groups across the state in solidarity soon after. In 2020, Extinction Rebellion-Massachusetts (XR) used their actions to demand that institutional leaders tell the truth about climate, act now to achieve net zero carbon emissions within 5 years, and go beyond politics to empower communities to lead a just transition from a carbon-based extractive economy that exploits people & the planet.
XR organized throughout the state this year to draw attention to these demands and force action from leaders in politics, media, and business. You may have seen some of XR’s Red Rebels, polar bears, Ocean Brigade, or colorful banners in the Boston Globe, on your drive to the Cape, or in your neighborhood. XR organized safely, following public health advice, to call attention to the overarching catastrophe caused by our unsustainable economy and to demand societal response. We are grateful for the chance to share our favorite colorful and creative events from local XR groups with you. Thank you to organizers throughout the Bay State who made these possible. As you look through these photos and reflect on your New Year’s resolutions, we invite you to join us in love and rage in 2021…
1. Jan 21st – Alternative State of the Commonwealth
Rebels gathered at the state house outside of Governor Charlie Baker’s annual state of the commonwealth speech. Our alternative “Charlie Baker” (actor) gave a speech of what Charlie Baker would say if he understood and acted on the gravity of the climate crisis and its implications for our coastal state.
2. May 22nd – Boston City Hall Shoe Stand In:
We laid out hundreds of shoes in front of Boston City hall to symbolize the cost of government lying and inaction – a pattern laid bare by the COVID pandemic and with grave implications for the ongoing climate emergency.
3. July 15th – Fed Up with Climate Injustice:
We parked a boat reading “Just Transition” outside of the Federal Reserve Bank to raise awareness of how the Fed has used their discretionary powers during covid to bail out fossil fuel companies at four times the rate of other companies. We acted out a scene where the oil billionaires on the boat celebrate their victory by pouring out all of their extra oil on the helpless people and ecosystem. Thankfully, the youth of Sunrise Movement came to take back their future.
4. Aug 10th – Citgo Drop:
10 rebels dropped a banner reading “Climate Justice Now” on the citgo sign. We thought we were doing a favor for the city because Boston has declared climate change a public health emergency so they couldn’t possibly want large fossil fuel advertisements as landmarks. Our team was arrested and charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace, but the action made the news from Allston to India to demand truth & action for climate justice.
5. Sept 4th – Cape Cod Climate Emergency Spectacular:
As people headed out to the cape for Labor Day weekend, we reminded them to enjoy the beaches while they still exist. Based on the state’s own projections, much of the Cape will be underwater within a few decades. We held out state maps of sea level rise to let the vacationers know while the Red Rebels marched back and forth over the Bourne Bridge and around the beaches.
6. Sept 19th – Red Skies = Climate Emergency:
In the week after the California wildfires turned the skies red here in Mass (2500+ miles away), we marched on the State House to demand the climate crisis be treated and communicated like the emergency it is. We dumped blood on their front steps to call attention the innumerable lives and species that are lost every day due to the man-made climate crisis.
7. October 18th – The World Burns as the Globe Turns:
We marched through Faneuil Hall handing out alternate versions of the Globe – what it would look like if they actually reported on climate change as the crisis it is. Based on careful research, we demonstrated that they’d woefully underreported on connections between news stories and the climate emergency. Then we marched up to their headquarters and delivered a set of our demands by taping it onto the outside of their building.
8. October 24th – Emergency or Death:
Wellesley high schoolers, college students, and residents marched in a funeral procession to town hall to advocate for the passage of Article 21, which would make climate change a priority in town decision making. The article later passed in town meeting with a strong majority.
9. October 31st – Climate Change Is Scary Parade:
We marched from Somerville City Hall to Cambridge City Hall in climate costumes. Climate change is scary because our cities aren’t taking it seriously enough and even our more progressive communities aren’t taking comprehensive or urgent action. We were joined by “Greta”, “Ed Markey”, Count Frackula, The Green New Deal, Green Washing, Forest Fires, and Mother Gaia herself. We capped off our parade with a rendition of Thriller on the steps of Cambridge City Hall.
10. November 29th – Santa’s Underwater:
XR festively crashed Newburyport’s annual Santa Parade as the elves and reindeer in kayaks must migrate south because their home at the North Pole has melting away in the climate crisis, with the 2020 ice coverage the second lowest on record.
Extinction Rebellion-Massachusetts invites community members to make a resolution to participate however they can or join our events 2021. To learn more about the climate emergency and XR, check out https://xrmass.org/news/. To participate in events, go to https://xrmass.org/action/ or follow @xrmass on Instagram.
In love and rage,
Extinction Rebellion Massachusetts is an autonomous chapter of the international grassroots movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), which started in London in 2018. The purpose of XR is to tell the truth about how dire the ecological and climate crisis is and spark immediate action in order to prevent complete climate and ecological collapse. We aim to mobilize people around the world to utilize nonviolent direct action to demand that governments take radical action to avert societal collapse caused by widespread climate and ecological disaster, and to protect front-line communities, biodiversity, and the natural world. This movement is non-political, and unites all of humanity behind a singular goal of a just and livable future. Learn more at: xrmass.org