'We are prepared to give up our liberty' - Saffron Walden man speaks out after Extinction Rebellion arrest

PUBLISHED: 08:43 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:50 30 April 2019

Kevin Wing was arrested on Waterloo Bridge for his part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Kevin Wing was arrested on Waterloo Bridge for his part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A Saffron Walden man who was arrested and detained for 11 hours for his part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London says he was willing to give up his liberty to "stimulate action against the climate crisis".

Edward Gildea from Saffron Walden also joined the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDEdward Gildea from Saffron Walden also joined the Extinction Rebellion protests in London. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Kevin Wing initially joined the protests on Waterloo Bridge with his wife, young daughter and baby son and the next day he returned alone and camped out overnight. In the morning, on April 17, commuters walked across the bridge, many stopping to chat to Kevin about the action, but at 10am the police handed out Section 14 notices.

“These indicated that we would be arrested if we did not clear the road after subsequent warnings,” Kevin said. “Sitting on the front line of the roadblock and unmoved by the police warnings, a fellow group of activists and myself were soon arrested, and escorted to the awaiting vans.”

Kevin says he was detained for 11 hours at West Central Police station before being released at 11pm.

Explaining why he was willing to be arrested, Kevin said: “It's because I believe that the Government's response to the impending climate and ecological disaster is woefully inadequate. I have attended environmental demonstrations, signed petitions, contacted councilors, written repeatedly to my MP and even met her in Parliament. All to no avail in terms of meaningful changes to environmental policy.”

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Extinction Rebellion describes itself as an international apolitical network using “non-violent direct action to persuade Governments to act on the climate and ecological emergency”.

Another protestor from Saffron Walden, Edward Gildea, says he has experienced similar frustrations to Kevin in his attempts to persuade politicians to take the threat seriously.

“Holding a banner across the Bayswater Road on my left was someone with a PhD in environmental psychology and on my right was a physicist with a MSc in sustainable energy,” Edward said. “I met an undergraduate completing his degree in politics and another enthusiast for agricology. These are intelligent people who have studied and worked on sustainability for years, but ministers and sections of the press simply dismiss us as 'so-called environmentalists'.”

But Kevin is clear about his decision to take action: “We are prepared to give up our liberty to stimulate action against the climate crisis that has been sorely lacking for the past 30 years, suppressed under the weight of fossil-fuel industry lobbying and multi-million pound denial campaigns.”

In response to a Parliamentary question from former Labour leader Ed Milliband on the protests, the Government said it hoped to work with all parties to make progress with climate change.

Environment minister Michael Gove said the activists' “point had been made” and it was time to have “a serious conversation about what we can do to collectively deal with this problem”.

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