Extinction Rebellion rally in Sydney marred by arrests as protesters block road, chain themselves to water tank

That was the headline from the ABC.

The protest wasn’t marred by protests. Sydney was marred by the protests. As were other capital cities around Australia.

The ABC wasn’t reporting the incident, they were inciting it:

Several elderly protesters were led away, including a man in a suit, whose removal prompted two men to lie down on Broadway in protest against the police intervention, before they too were removed.

One woman was placed in handcuffs and had her arms pulled over her head by officers as she was led away.

An elderly woman screamed, “You’re hurting me, please stop this,” as police dragged her across the concrete on her knees, when she refused to leave the road.

Protesters chanted, “This is what democracy looks like” and called those being led away “heroes”.

Police on horseback watched on as officers removed five teenage girls from the road, ending the sit-in protest.

These people are a menace.

New South Wales Police said 30 people were arrested following the rally, for offences ranging from obstructing traffic to obeying reasonable direction.

And this is their manifesto.

This is the Australian mob.

The Brisbane protest seems to have expanded – as these aways do – beyond the “climate emergency” garbaggio they usually chant about.

Lind of like the question to James Dean.

Whaddaya rebelling against?”

“Whaddaya got?”

The problem with ER’s tactics

As Alexander Hensby wrote in The Conversation:

It’s extremely important that the movement’s purpose does not become overshadowed by its tactics. Extinction Rebellion has ransacked the playbook of direct action repertoires – blocking roads, using fake blood, recreating funeral marches, and surprise nakedness. While these have so far been successful in bringing the movement’s name and cause to the fore, using such tactics ad nauseum can quickly lose the public’s imagination and support. This was evident in the Global Justice Movement of the 2000s, as the desire to recreate the euphoria of Seattle resulted in tactical “summit hopping” with diminishing returns.

State agencies also learn quickly how to police repeated mobilisations more ruthlessly and extremely – although Extinction Rebellion’s “trademark” repertoire, the tactical use of mass arrests, so far appears to be combating this threat effectively. Police have powers to disperse protesters, but the sheer number of people now willing to be arrested shifts the balance of power between the public and the state. For example, police have so far been unable to clear any of the four sites in central London, as spates of arrests were closely followed by new wave of protesters arriving to entrench control. The city’s police stations do not have the capacity to hold hundreds of arrested protesters for long periods, and court costs will discourage officers from pursuing charges, limiting the punitive power of the state.

At the same time, Extinction Rebellion’s tactics risk fetishising the act of being arrested as a symbol of participants’ commitment to the cause. The movement’s co-founder, Roger Hallam, recently told the BBC that in order to achieve its goal of “getting in the room with government”, it may need to create a law and order crisis on the scale of 1,000 arrests. Such an arbitrary target is problematic, as it may encourage activists to take more risk in pursuit of a goal that is by no means guaranteed.

But remember the advice of Saul Alinksy:

  1. “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”
  2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
  3. “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
  4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
  5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
  6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
  7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
  8. “Keep the pressure on.”
  9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
  10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”
  11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.”
  12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
  13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Glueing yourself to the ground is going to get very tiresome very fast. Especially in an Australian summer.