Photos Donald Lyven, Barnet Green Party
"Die-in" at the gates of ExxonMobil UK headquarters, near Leatherhead Surrey, on Good Friday April 6th, 2007 the day of the release of the "Climate Impacts" section of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, which outlined the devastating effects unchecked climate change will have on the world's poorest and most vulnerable people.
We brought our anger at Exxon's cynical campaign of disinformation on climate change right up to the gates of their UK HQ for 24 hours, from 5.00pm Thursday 5th to 5.00 pm Good Friday April 6th. It started with a lonely 2 protestors putting together our 'globe-in-a greenhouse' under the scrutiny of the assembed forces of the law drawn up to defend the corporate miscreant in anticipation of our (moral) assault. Then there were tree climbing antics to string up our giant banner with the message "Climate Disinformation Kills"
, as more demonstrators arrived to leaflet the departing workers and blast out our message via megaphone. As the night drew in the curtain-sided truck for the stage arrived and a small band of overnighters from all around the country could gather within to stare out the defenders of the Exxon compex, with their floodlights, on the other side of the barrier. Later another gathering formed around a campfire in a lonely copse by moonlight, before collapsing into sleeping bags as the candles of the all-night vigil burned on.
In the morning the Nathalie Koerfer breakfast-van swung into operation as protesters stirred into life or trickled into our 'protest camp' from Leatherhead railway station. Lining the barrier in front of the Exxon complex, by now, were cut-out heads of the numerous stooges that make up the 'hydra' of the Exxon climate disinformation network. Phil Thornhill then took a few of these to illustrate his talk on just a small selection from the Exxon catalogue of 'dirty tricks'. Numbers, slow to build at first, now began to increase as the 'Brixton Tea Party' arrived to keep them all refreshed. Duncan Law gave a seminar on 'reducing personal carbon foorprints' while Cornelius gave us a musical interlude. Soon it was time for speeches - from Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker(1 of 2) and Elaine Graham-Leigh, environment spokesperson from the RESPECT party. These were interrupted by wild clapping to greet the arrival of the cyclist party from London - which had been marauding 'Esso' garages en route, and then, later, the hard-core band of cyclists all the way from Brighton. After the speeches came the 'mass moment' when everybody lay flat for a symbolic 'die-in' in front of the Exxon gates to illustrate the deadly imacts of climate change (as substantiated by the UN report) - and more specifically the deadly impact of Exxon's campaign to delay effective action to deal with climate change. Extra poignancy was given to this by Chris Bluemel's melancholy violin solo - sufficient to dispel for a few moments the busy clamour of the present reality and allow a frightening comtemplation of the depth of the climate crisis we face. Shane Collins, veteran environmental campaigner and Green Party stalwart, then delivered us back to the present and the politics of what we can do now to resolve the crisis. There was performance poetry, too, from Dennis just Menis and Grassy Knoll, as well as a lively number to jig to from Chris on the violin. Phil returned to wrap up the speeches by reminding everyone of the very real damage done by Exxon and the need for our campaign to continually confront those with most power and most responsibility for blocking progress or failing to take action to deal with the huge threat to humanity posed by the climate crisis.
The protest on this beautiful bright Spring day then gradually wound down as musicians Sarah Behr and Rob arrived late, yet again, but rewarded those who had stayed the full course. The small bunch of lively dancers reluctantly terminated proceedings as the truck had to be driven away and the gear packed up. But a few ballons remained stuck in the trees with the message: "Exxon's Lies Kill".