The Climate Camp Protest on Blackheath

Climate Camp intends to organise a “green” protest in London about the United Kingdom’s policies which are causing damage to the environment. It is not yet clear where the protest will be held; cell phones and texting allows protestors to choose a location at the last minute and get thousands of their supporters at a given location in order to protest. The publicity that the protest will generate will be significant. The Climate Camp protestors have chosen Blackheath in South East London, just across the River Thames from the forces of capitalism and banking that are ensconced in the City of London and in Docklands. There, on Blackheath, they will literally set up a camp and stay there for a week, until the 2nd of September.

The last large climate protest in London occurred earlier this year and led to one person (who was not a protestor) dying after being assaulted by one of the forces of law and order, some minor injuries to some of the forces of law and order and the “kettling” of many protestors who are locked in a cauldron by the police for many hours without the possibility of leaving.

Protest has always been a feature of democracies. In my youth in the East End of London many people were still alive who had protested about the fascists and fought with them in Cable Street. Later while I was a student there were many protests and public demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. Later still I remember seeing Harriet Harman pushing her young child at the head of a protest march in South London; I forget the cause – I suspect that it was either a protest against the council tax or a protest in favour of the print unions.

So even those that hold high office have joined public protests or supported public protests. Yes, inconvenience is caused, delays and some trouble is incurred to ordinary people, but ordinary people like me have had flights delayed because Prime Ministers were travelling or have been stuck in traffic jams because dignitaries or politicians only feel safe driving through the streets of London in bullet proof cars flanked by out riders who clear a traffic path causing us ordinary mortals to waste our time to save that of these important politicians.

Sometimes public protests get out of hand; the disruption becomes frustrating and no doubt the protestors and the police both find tempers frayed and violence occurs. Violence is not part of the right of public protest. Many of the Climate Camp protestors argue that they are protesting against criminal behaviour by the establishment in permitting the degradation of the environment. That is an argument too far; they certainly are right to protest peacefully. Indeed I hope that most environmentalists abhor violence which is the last refuge of the incompetent.

The point of protesting is to create publicity or awareness for the cause. Great and proper causes have thrived on protests and the publicity generated. There is always some inconvenience to the public, but the public are more than inconvenienced by businesses such as those operating coal burning power stations, or financing environmentally disastrous activities. In those cases the public are endangered.

I do not think that you can correct wrong doing by wrong doing of a different kind. That is the argument used by dictators throughout history and it is repugnant. The Climate Camp people should be careful that the inconvenience they cause does not develop into criminal behaviour because then they will do far more harm to their worthy cause by alienating those very people to whom they seek to spread their important message.

Blackheath is a public open space – a park that I played in as a child. I am sure that over the coming weekend many children would want to play there. I hope that the protestors keep this to the forefront of their minds.

I hope that for those camping out upon Blackheath the weather is fine, the police stay good humoured and that violence stays well out of the Climate Camp. A peaceful protest would do much to persuade the good people of England that the Climate Camp cause is just and that we do need to change our collective behaviour in order to protect our precious planet for future generations.

5 Responses

  1. […] See the original post here: The Climate Camp Protest on Blackheath […]

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