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Extinction Rebellion stops traffic with die-in action at NYC City Hall

The protest movement grows in the US as citizens face arrest while demanding action on climate change.

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SarahTewHS2012urbanSuare01.jpg

Sarah Tew

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Extinction Rebellion activists stop traffic in NYC
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Extinction Rebellion, or XR, is an "international movement that uses nonviolent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimize the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse," and it's "working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised, and inclusive." On Wednesday morning in New York City, 62 people were arrested during a die-in to call attention to the effects of Climate Change and present the city with four demands.

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The crux of this morning's Extinction Rebellion protest was a die-in blocking traffic outside City Hall in NYC.  This marks the beginning of Rebellion Week. Extinction Rebellion is a rapidly expanding movement that began in the UK and is currently growing worldwide. 

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When I arrived, I found activist Julian Smith handing out fliers and chalk and encouraging people to express themselves on the expansive sidewalk outside City Hall.

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As the morning progressed, the sidewalks became covered with warnings about environmental destruction.

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Leo Bierman, 30, became interested in activism when he saw a livestream of XR's first meeting. He went on to be arrested in its first NYC action.

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Catchy slogans abound.

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A band comes together to encourage the protesters and lead songs.

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The Rev. Chelsea MacMillan gave opening remarks to those gathered and outlined the four demands of Extinction Rebellion.

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The first demand is that governments tell the truth about climate change and act on it. NYC activists are demanding that City Hall declare a climate emergency.  

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The second goal of XR is to have us at net zero emissions by 2025.

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The third demand calls for a citizens' assembly. To put this into practice for a bit, the crowd divided into small groups, introduced themselves and exchanged ideas for how NYC can better address climate change. 

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The group's fourth demand is that the "transition be just."  This seems to be in line with the Green New Deal proposed by Democratic Socialists.

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Many groups recorded their ideas in lists on the ground. 

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XR's members lift up a giant banner across from City Hall in anticipation of the street takeover.

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Once activists moved to lay down in the street and block traffic, NYPD was quick to begin asking protesters to disperse.

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The street was lined with police officers and their scooters.

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Along with those willing to risk arrest, there were hundreds of others present to show support and increase visibility.

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Extinction Rebellion is a nonviolent movement, and it had provided training to protesters who intended to be arrested at this action.

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Linking arms is often done to create a blockade at protests.

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Police officers repeatedly played a message over a loudspeaker to warn protesters that they needed to vacate the street or face charges of disorderly conduct.

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Protesters' signage indicates they feel the government and corporations are lying to the public about the urgency of climate change.

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The NYC plan to build a "sea wall" around lower Manhattan was cited as not nearly comprehensive enough to deal with the problems.

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Whoa, what's this guy up to? At first I thought he was just trying to get a cool angled shot on the die-in.

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It appears these two men are rigging up some signage.

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The police seem surprised by this new development.

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The first sign reads, "Declare Climate Emergency," referencing the first of XR's demands.

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Folks on the ground are preparing for their inevitable arrest.

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And here come the signs...

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Fairly impressive technique I would say. I was surprised they managed to do this.

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And now for some arrests...

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Police officers were wearing body cameras, and I heard a commanding officer check to make sure they were turned on before arrests began.

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As protesters are pulled off the ground and put into zip-tie cuffs, the crowd chants "thank you" to each of them.

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Many of the citizens arrested didn't seem particularly radical or young, and Extinction Rebellion seemed to mobilize a wide variety of demographics.

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Some were young and radical looking, of course...

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Crowd control continues as more and more onlookers gather to take in the scene.

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This sign reads, "Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius would require rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented change in all aspects of society."

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Most protesters went quietly once they were under arrest.

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Some made their voices heard as they were being marched off in handcuffs.

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The green ribbons worn by many participating in the protest seem to represent ecology.

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Zip ties -- tools of the trade..

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It was inspiring to see citizens taking action on an issue that affects us all.

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At one point it looked like they'd run out of officers to perform the arrests, and more were called in for duty.  There were 62 people arrested when all was said and done. 

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The new shift arrives.

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Is Carrots a band? I really hope this is just a shirt about vegetables.

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The crowd isn't going anywhere. They're watching this go down until it's over.

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Officers help up one of the final remaining protesters.

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This activist sang a song as she was moved into the police bus, "I am not afraid, I am not afraid, I would die for liberation 'cause I know why I was made."

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Another woman chimed in to sing along with her.

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There were significantly more arrests atWednesday's action than at the first XR die-in at Rockefeller Center on January 27.

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The line of the arrested activists waiting to get in the bus was pretty long.

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The action may be over and the crowd dispersed, but the messages of XR remained on the sidewalk for passersby to take in.  The group will gather for remaining events over Rebellion Week, including a picnic in central park on Saturday.

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