Biologist, ex-teacher and retired CEO among Parliament climate change protesters

A group of climate change protesters who stripped off in the House of Commons include a former charity CEO, a relationship counsellor and a new age marriage officiant.

The gang of largely-naked ‘Extinction Rebellion’ demonstrators interrupted a debate on Brexit yesterday evening when they stood up in the public gallery with messages painted on their bodies.

There were 20 protesters in the public gallery, with 14 stripping off and eight sticking themselves to the glass with superglue.

Among the protesters in Parliament yesterday was new age 'celebrant' Isla MacLeod

Among the protesters in Parliament yesterday was new age 'celebrant' Isla MacLeod

Among the protesters in Parliament yesterday was former charity boss Oliver Baines (right)

Among the protesters in Parliament yesterday was former charity boss Oliver Baines (right)

Among the protesters in Parliament yesterday was new age ‘celebrant’ Isla MacLeod (left) and former charity boss Oliver Baines (right)

Among those taking photos of the stunt was Swedish website worker Eveline Utterdahl

Among those taking photos of the stunt was Swedish website worker Eveline Utterdahl

Among those taking photos of the stunt was biologist Iggy Fox

Among those taking photos of the stunt was biologist Iggy Fox

Among those taking photos of the stunt were Swedish website worker Eveline Utterdahl and biologist Iggy Fox

Mark Ovland, a 36-year-old Buddist teacher from Devon, was among those who stripped off

Mark Ovland, a 36-year-old Buddist teacher from Devon, was among those who stripped off

Mark Ovland, a 36-year-old Buddist teacher from Devon, was among those who stripped off

Among those who stripped off was Mark Ovland, a 36-year-old Buddist teacher from Devon, who was previously one of the so-called ‘Totnes Two’ who glued themselves to the door of an oil industry conference earlier this year.

Another who took her clothes off was activist Rosa Van Kesteren, a Phd student from Bristol.

Ms Van Kesteren, who studied Eating Practices at Coventry University, was one of three women fined for stripping off at the launching of an aircraft which ran on biofuels 2013.

The trio, who painted ‘bare faced cheek’ on their bodies, questioned the plane’s green credentials. 

Also among those who stormed Parliament’s public gallery was Oliver Baines, a 68-year-old from St Austell in Cornwall.

He was CEO of a charity called the Cornwall Rural Community Charity, which helps groups in the South West, until he left in 2005.

Taking photos for the group were Iggy Fox, a 24-year-old wildlife biologist from London, and Eveline Utterdahl, blogger from Gothenburg in Sweden.

Isla Macleod, from Bruton, Somerset, was also involved. The 34-year-old describes herself as a ‘celebrant’ and hosts new age wedding ceremonies in woodland and fields.

Her website states: ‘With my grounding in Buddhist practices, training in Shamanic healing and ongoing exploration of the feminine mysteries and Celtic mythology I am able to draw on various strands for inspiration and hold ceremonies in a deep and powerful way, working on all levels, seen and unseen.’  

The group stripped off in protest at lack of action over climate change yesterday evening

The group stripped off in protest at lack of action over climate change yesterday evening

The group stripped off in protest at lack of action over climate change yesterday evening

MPs were debating Brexit when the group pushed up against the glass of the public gallery

MPs were debating Brexit when the group pushed up against the glass of the public gallery

MPs were debating Brexit when the group pushed up against the glass of the public gallery

Fox meanwhile has worked at animal sanctuaries around the world, with his Instagram feed showing pictures from his trips around Indonesia, Bali and South America. 

Also named by the group as having taken part in the protest as former teacher William Cooke, English literature student Savannah May and Bell Selkie, a 48-year-old counsellor. 

Last November, Miss Selkie glued her hand to a revolving door of the Department of Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy during a similar protest.

Speaking yesterday’s demo interrupted the Brexit debate, Savannah, from west London, said: ‘Personally I don’t care that much about Brexit. I think it’s fine that people do but I think there are bigger things right now.’

Cooke, 36, was part of a group who brought London to a standstill in November last year when they lay down in roads to stop traffic.

The Bristol-based former teacher said on that occasion that he didn’t mind being arrested because it wouldn’t affect his job.

He compared those demonstrations to those carried out by Rosa Parks during the Civil Rights movement in the US, and the suffragettes in the UK in the early 20th century. 

Demonstrators Dimi Shoe and William Cooke were pictured outside Parliament after the stunt

Demonstrators Dimi Shoe and William Cooke were pictured outside Parliament after the stunt

Demonstrators Dimi Shoe and William Cooke were pictured outside Parliament after the stunt

Mr Cooke was previously involved in a climate protest on the streets of London, which he compared to the suffragette movement

Mr Cooke was previously involved in a climate protest on the streets of London, which he compared to the suffragette movement

Mr Cooke was previously involved in a climate protest on the streets of London, which he compared to the suffragette movement

Speaking after yesterday’s stunt, Ms Utterdahl said: ‘The reaction from people in the public was amazing. They were laughing and cheering it on. I heard people say “Good for them” and “This is incredible”. 

‘Most people didn’t want to leave the gallery and only left when forced to by guards. I talked to some of them outside afterwards and they were impressed with the whole action, especially the glue part. 

‘I saw both guards and people on the other side of the glass smile and laugh. The atmosphere was cheerful and happy.’

Extinction Rebellion, which describes itself as a non-violent direct action and civil disobedience group, said the protest was an attempt to draw politicians’ attentions to the ‘climate and ecological crisis’. 

MPs were seen taking a glance up at the protest and Speaker John Bercow maintained that the debate on the second stage of the Brexit alternatives would proceed despite the protest.

Scotland Yard said officers were sent in an attempt to ‘negotiate’ with the activists, before adding: ’12 arrests have been made for outraging public decency.’

The protest caused shock among MPs, most notably former Labour leader Ed Miliband

The protest caused shock among MPs, most notably former Labour leader Ed Miliband

The protest caused shock among MPs, most notably former Labour leader Ed Miliband

Who are Extinction Rebellion?

Extinction Rebellion was set up in the UK in 2018 by activists who felt too little is being done to stop climate change.

They want the government to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and to set up a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee emissions.

The group advocate civil disobedience to further their aims, and, according to their manifesto ‘support and encourage a citizens uprising in the UK’.

In November last year, hundreds of their followers barricaded five bridges across the Thames, bringing chaos to the capital’s traffic.

Last year, Extinction Rebellion occupied bridges across the Thames in London

Last year, Extinction Rebellion occupied bridges across the Thames in London

Last year, Extinction Rebellion occupied bridges across the Thames in London

More than 70 people were arrested on a day which saw comedian Jim Davidson rant at demonstrators and police, who he said were doing too little to move them on.

Then in December, protestors from the group surrounded the BBC’s headquarters, calling for the broadcaster to make climate change its ‘top editorial priority’.

They called on director general Tony Hall to meet them and for the BBC to declare ‘a climate and ecological emergency’.

Earlier this year, they blocked roads outside London Fashion Week to protest against the “unsustainable” industry.

Demonstrations began when a small crowd rallied outside Victoria Beckham’s event at the Tate Britain and blocked Fashion Week cars travelling to the show.

 

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