Anne Blair-Vincent was arrested for the first time as part of the April Rebellion. Below she explains what turned her from a Church warden to a climate protester…
Until one day in September 2021 I was, like many other people I am sure, a concerned citizen who was becoming increasingly depressed about the climate emergency we are all facing. I had done all the usual things; written letters, signed petitions and I was doing my bit for the environment. However, it was becoming increasingly clear to me that this was not enough and even worse that it was a distraction.
I was vaguely aware of XR but I hadn’t heard of CCA until I clicked on a video on Twitter and saw people being arrested at St. Paul’s Cathedral for protesting at the church’s continued investment in fossil fuels. My “light bulb” moment arrived! I stepped down as Church Warden and wrote to the Bishop of Durham explaining that I could no longer hold an official role in the church whilst it continues to invest in fossil fuels (The Diocese of Durham has since committed to divest).
Fast forward to Palm Sunday this year when I and many others marched through London and occupied Vauxhall and Lambeth bridges. I am 64, I have never deliberately broken the law and I hate confrontation. I find ignoring others (especially police officers) very difficult, but this was a “now or never” moment for me. The anticipation of being arrested was, the worst part. Fortunately, the people sitting on the road with me were full of love and care for each other and we felt the same love from those around us. Without wanting to sound overly dramatic it did feel like one of the most important things I’ve done in my life.
We waited a long time before being taken to a police station and I had the opportunity to talk with the arresting officer about why we were there. I hope he was able to see me as I saw him: a fellow human being. I felt that I had been well prepared for what would happen once we arrived at Charing Cross police station. We were well cared for; I was allowed to keep with me the photo of my grandson and it was wonderful to hear fellow XR arrestees singing call and response to each other from their cells. On our release, we were met by a lovely XR person with snacks and more love.
Rev. Mark Coleman puts things in a way which resonates with me: I am a white, middle class older woman; I completely understand that being arrested has very different connotations for others and I feel that it is my duty to use this privilege in any way I can.
My hope is that others in my church and friendship group may be challenged too to become more than bystanders.