Extinction Rebellion: Archway man on being arrested - and on campaigners' 'baffling' Jeremy Corbyn house protest
PUBLISHED: 15:32 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 18 April 2019
An Archway campaigner who was arrested while protesting against climate change has dismissed the campaigners who chained themselves to Jeremy Corbyn's garden gate as "baffling" and off-message.
Jackson Caines, 25, who lives off Highgate Hill and works in social housing for Hackney Council, was among hundreds of Extinction Rebellion protestors arrested for picketing transport hubs in the capital this week.
He only became an active member a few weeks ago but was trained and sent out as part of an Islington “affinity group”, or small cell of campaigners, with the aim of causing maximum disruption.
Jackson told the Gazette: “I, like many of the other people, have been drawn to Extinction Rebellion because there is this sense of urgency about climate change that's not being reflected by government responses.
“We have exhausted traditional avenues of democratic process and this is just a step-up. We need government to take action.”
The new recruit arrived in Oxford Street with his affinity group, where a huge “boat” had been made to block the road – referencing the threat of rising sea levels.
“So I sat down next to the boat,” he said. “It was peaceful and there were so many people there. It's very random who the police decide to arrest.”
Eventually officers approached and cuffed Jackson. He said the support he received from other protestors made this easier.
“There were legal observers there to make sure everything was above board,” he added. “There's quite a lot of experts in the movement who know the criminal justice system.”
He says he was put in a van and taken to a police station in Brixton.
“When I got there it was total chaos,” Jackson said. “They were overwhelmed by all the people they had arrested. They didn't have the resources to deal with me so I wasn't interviewed, just held in a waiting room with my arresting officer for four hours. I could see all the staff running around like headless chickens and eventually they said: 'We don't have time or space to interview you or put you in a cell.' So we were released under investigation without bail.”
He added: “The police were very polite and civil. They're all individuals with their own views about the protest – some were quite supportive.”
This morning four Extinction Rebellion affiliates bike-chained themselves to the Labour leader's gate in Holloway.
They expressed support for him but said Labour must become more radical in opposing climate change. Some are said to have cried when the Islington North veteran ignored them and rebuffed their offering of potted plants. They later apologised.
“I find that action pretty baffling,” said Jackson, when quizzed on these antics. “Because it presents Corbyn as an opponent when he is in favour of a green new deal we need. But our movement is autonomous so people take their own actions.”
And, in response to some Londoners feeling disgruntled their journeys had been impacted by this week's protests, Jackson said: “They didn't do it out of spite – it's the only option remaining. And if they think this is disruption, wait till it comes to climate change – they haven't seen anything yet.”
The green new deal, which takes its name from President Franklin Roosevelt's famous post-depression progamme, has been touted as a blueprint for beating global warming. It advocates, in part, massive state investment in green energy, jobs and infrastructure with the end goal of creating a carbon-free economy.