Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area - #TellTheTruth - Climate Emergency

by Sylvia Dell on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area

Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area - #TellTheTruth - Climate Emergency

by Sylvia Dell on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area
Sylvia Dell on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area
Case Owner
I'm a mother, appalled about government inaction on climate, so I take action with XR. I was arrested twice in London and will face prison if necessary to protect the future for all our children.
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Sylvia Dell on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area
Case Owner
I'm a mother, appalled about government inaction on climate, so I take action with XR. I was arrested twice in London and will face prison if necessary to protect the future for all our children.
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Latest: Sept. 3, 2019

No regrets locked under sound stage - this is an emergency!

Sylvia Dell - I'm in court this Friday - I was arrested twice on Waterloo Bridge in April.

I took this video while I was locked on under the sound stage on Waterloo Bridge. I'd only just taken…

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This fundraising is to support the brave souls from Totnes & Area Extinction Rebellion - charged for telling the truth about the climate and ecological emergency -with their costs as they arise from the legal process. We have had 43 arrests to date and there are currently over 20 facing prosecution, with more being charged each week. Please donate and share as widely as you can - this is an emergency.

The evidence for an Ecological and Climate Emergency is undeniable [IPPC & IPBES], and according to António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, “The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late”; before we reach irreversible climate breakdown and collapse of civilisation (Attenborough). Even the UK’s temperate climate is showing multiple signs of the catastrophe already engulfing so many areas worldwide, with unseasonable heat, droughts and deluges. The Earth that we love and rely on for survival is under unprecedented threat and our government is failing to protect us, our families and generations to come.

In the words of Greta Thunberg "Act as if your house is on fire. BECAUSE IT IS"

For 30 years, scientists have been telling government climate change will kill us. They ignored this advice and allowed emissions to increase by 60% in the last 30 years. Forests are burning; temperatures and seas are rising; people are dying. What does it take to face the truth and #ActNow?

We in Extinction Rebellion Totnes and Area, in Devon, have been and still are taking action in the only way left open to us - through peaceful civil disobedience. We are a small town with a big heart, home of the Transition Movement and our XR branch was one of the earliest to be set up. Our members have attended every major XR action to date, including 5 Bridges (London Nov 2018), International Rebellion (April 2019), and Summer Uprising (July 2019) - and we have had 43 arrests so far. There are currently over 20 facing charges. Our branch has already done a lot of fund-raising, but every week more are being charged, and we need help from a wider community. We need help from you.

The following introduce you to some of the individuals being charged, and their stories of courage and self-sacrifice. We will be adding further details, as more and more are charged.

Each person makes their own choices about how to plead - many will plead not-guilty, as we believe that we have done nothing wrong - we are simply using our bodies and voices to highlight the dangers humanity and all life on Earth are facing. However, some will plead guilty if their circumstances mean they need to resolve their case quickly. We stand by every arrestee and honour their decisions - we have strength in unity. At this point several have had their first hearing, a few are facing court cases now, many more have court dates in the months to come. Each week more receive a charge and date for a first hearing. All charges require travel to London, and a variety of costs, including legal fees. So we have a need for major fundraising support, both now and for many months to come. Please help us.

Thank you for supporting our cause.

Some of the Totnes and Area Arrestees

Frank Bennett, Totnes - arrested April, Waterloo Bridge


Totnes & SW area rebels waiting for arrest - Frank centre of photo 

In mid April more than 100 folk from Totnes and District transmogrified into intrepid eco-warriors defending our Planet for future generations from the now scientifically established imminent threat of catastrophic climate change. They, with others from the South West, converged on London's Waterloo Bridge, which they blocked for nearly 2 weeks, creating a garden there. The photo shows our local group holding Waterloo Bridge during the night of the first day just before the police moved in and arrested most of those pictured. The police were unable to retake the Bridge!

This was just one part of the massive Extinction Rebellion(XR) Spring Rebellion; which for 10 days severely disrupted Central London and City traffic as well as  the stock exchange and Treasury. We are trying to wake up our Country to the need to take urgent action to avert the looming danger of catastrophic climate change. In all, 1100 people were arrested over the 10 days, of which more than 30 were from Totnes and local area.

Tim & Sue Ponton, Totnes - arrested April, Waterloo Bridge. 


Credit Sue Spicer.

Tim Ponton - I am retired following 30 years of work as an NHS clinician. I am desperate because of the lack of meaningful action by our government on the issues of climate change and species extinction. 

I am currently awaiting a plea hearing in court but will not hesitate to repeat acts of civil disobedience in the pursuit of the goals of Extinction Rebellion.  I understand that this may lead to serious effects on my NHS pension but feel that many people, especially younger ones, are in much greater need.

Sue Ponton - I am profoundly shocked by the inertia of Government - the climate/ecological crisis will not wait until they are ready. They are listening to lobbyists too much; not acknowledging the science and now this new government is full of deniers and frackers. They are definitely not doing enough. As a consequence I will want to rebel some more!!

My experience of arrest was probably one of relief as I knew it would happen, but was not sure when! I think my overriding memory of that night was of how cold I was! I am not sure what to expect at the court plea hearing – due on 9th August as I have never been arrested before!

Totnes XR member - Anonymous to respect wishes of family

I’m 64 years old. My favourite things to do are gardening on my allotment and spending time with my family and friends. I have two grown-up children and one baby grandson. For various reasons, neither of my children will have more children. You might think I’d be disappointed, but I am not; I am so relieved. Many young people who are aware of the climate crisis are voluntarily making the decision to remain childless because they don’t want to bring a child into a world of hardship.

The most powerful statement I could make, to show how important it was to me that the government pay attention to the impending crisis – was to give up my liberty for a period of time, peacefully and non-violently. In doing so, I risked prosecution, a criminal record and perhaps a significant penalty – as well as the emotional turmoil that comes from being arrested and held in police custody. 

I can tell you: this was not – and is not – a walk in the park. I have never been arrested before. I’ve never broken a meaningful law, nor defied a policeman. But at midnight on April 15th, when the time came, I allowed myself, shaking with fear, to be arrested and taken into custody for 13 hours.

Three months later, I’m being prosecuted. I will face court on the charge of sitting on a road in Waterloo and refusing to move. If I am found guilty, I face a significant penalty, court and legal costs as well as the cost of multiple trips to London.

I cannot overstate the emotional toll this is taking on me. Yet I don’t believe I am guilty of a crime. I don’t regret my actions for one minute and my resolve is as strong now – in fact stronger – than it was in April.

I will continue to protest and act, with the support of XR and good people like yourself, until the people who make the big decisions stand up and take notice. We need them to start acting in the best interests of our planet, our lovely planet. This is the last chance we have to change our present trajectory.

If we don’t, the hardship will be bigger than anything we can imagine.

Dinah Gibbons, Totnes - arrested April, Waterloo Bridge

Click picture for video compiled to commemorate the efforts of many thousands of people who helped to hold Waterloo Bridge for 11 days in April 2019 - several of those shown being arrested are from Totnes and elsewhere in the South West. Credit Lindford Lowe.

Credit Wayne Tippetts

I find myself an unlikely protester. I’ve always been baffled by science, and have avoided engaging with news that I find scary as that tends to disempower me. It was a chance conversation with my son’s friend at Christmas which prompted me to watch a video of Gail Bradbrook talking about the Climate Emergency. 

I didn’t want to believe it, to make myself uncomfortable or to change anything about my life that I enjoy. But her words 'will you be able to look your grandchildren in the eye and tell them you did your best?’ were ones I couldn’t ignore. It was that phrase that got me to my first XR meet up, that got me to the bridge, that got me arrested even though I have hideous claustrophobia. 

It normally takes me 10 seconds of believing myself to be shut in somewhere for a panic attack to commence. For the first 12 hours of my detention, I used every coping strategy I could imagine - singing, pacing, talking aloud, dancing, yoga, breathing. As I got really tired, however, the panic got bigger than my coping methods. I had a panic attack and felt myself facing the edge of my sanity, I was in terror. I was incredibly fortunate to be kindly treated by one of the officers, and also the Inspector who allowed me some fresh air. I was left traumatised by my claustrophobia, but absolutely stand by the urgent call to act for the sake of ALL our grandchildren.

Anthea Lawson - Totnes, arrested April, Waterloo Bridge

The scene on Waterloo Bridge late on the night of 15th April 2019 with Anthea being arrested. Credit: Chris Smith

Extracts from statement read out in court, 2 Aug 2019 - Today at City of London Magistrates Court I pleaded guilty to a criminal offence: a breach of Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, by sitting on Waterloo Bridge and refusing to move during the Extinction Rebellion protests in London in April this year. This felt like an extraordinary thing to do: both doing it in the first place, and then appearing in a court to be sentenced for it. (The sentence was a six month conditional discharge plus court costs.)

I have spent twenty years doing lawful campaigning. I have marched, written letters, organised coalitions of hundreds of organisations, lobbied in the corridors of the UN during international negotiations, researched and published reports, run press offices for campaign groups, written op-eds in major newspapers, appeared as a commentator on the BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera, testified to Parliament here and to a Senate inquiry in the US.

When I sat down on Waterloo Bridge with Extinction Rebellion, I have never been clearer about what I was doing. I understand that we caused disruption that caused difficulty, and I am sad and sorry for that. I do wish that it was not necessary. I understand that in taking these actions I have taken police and court resources that are needed, pressingly, elsewhere, and I am sorry for that, too.

But I also note that a decision has been made to prosecute everyone involved for this small offence. It was reported last week that only 1.5 per cent of accused rapists are now being prosecuted in the UK. Yet one hundred percent of the people who are trying to preserve life for our grandchildren, for our brothers and sisters in other countries who are already struggling with drought and deluge — one hundred percent of us are being prosecuted.

Somebody has made that decision. It appears to be a political decision, made to deter protest, and I can only speculate about whether it was made by people who have not yet lowered their psychological defences to take on board what we need to do, together, to protect our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But I made a decision, too: to take action in the service of life; to be a good ancestor; to sit on Waterloo Bridge; to be standing here today, however uncomfortable it feels.

Lu - I am 62 and have led a pretty ordinary life, and that includes having always respected, and abided by, the laws that govern this country. I have never been in court before.

Since my Geography degree 40 years ago I’ve been concerned about the dangers to our planet of environmental destruction and degradation, but I left it to others in charge, and optimism that things would work out, and rationalising that we always think things were better in the past… and also I never felt brave or capable enough to do anything about it myself.  So I’ve been a member of Greenpeace for over 25 years, and in more recent years I have signed all the petitions going, voted for the Green Party, and joined my local transition groups and wildlife trusts. 

But with the reports and forecasts of severe and rapid deterioration increasing in the last few years, and the inaction of governments, I have felt increasingly ill at ease, frustrated, angry, upset and fearful about what’s happening to our world.  Even when the 2018 IPPC report was published, I saw no sign that governments were paying more than lip service to this news.  It was starting to affect my state of mind – I couldn’t sleep well, my thoughts and feelings about my children’s futures – all our children’s futures – were bleak. I felt helpless and hopeless. 

For my own peace of mind I needed to do something more than sign petitions, and at XR’s April Rebellion, I was happy to take action on Waterloo Bridge, and for the first time in my life I was arrested, held in a police cell, and am now facing court. Just a year ago I would not have thought this possible. My thoughts about our children’s futures are still bleak, but I’m sleeping better. And I’m proud to be here in court, with my fellow defendants, because whatever the law, I believe I was right to sit on Waterloo Bridge and demand that government face up to reality and take action for all our futures.

Thank you

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Update 2

Sylvia Dell on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area

Sept. 3, 2019

No regrets locked under sound stage - this is an emergency!

Sylvia Dell - I'm in court this Friday - I was arrested twice on Waterloo Bridge in April.

I took this video while I was locked on under the sound stage on Waterloo Bridge. I'd only just taken over from the previous people who had been there over 12 hours - I thought I'd give them a break for toilet etc, and offered to stay for a short while. But almost immediately the police kettled us, and I was stuck there. Then I discovered to my alarm that I didn't know how to unlock the device and by then there was no-one to ask for help. I was stuck for hours, during which time I realised that I had a moral duty to broadcast my story. Anyway, by the time the police were ready to remove me, the lock on device had broken - I showed the policeman the broken bolt, but he arrested me anyway. I was held for 22 hours and released "With no further action", which I assumed was because they felt the broken bolt meant insufficient evidence to charge me. So imagine my surprise when 4 months later I received a notice of charge, and my court date of 6 September. 

In those intervening months, my resolve has hardened further as 100% of those arrested are being charged - we are the canaries in the coal mine - the fire alarm waking people in the night to warn the house is on fire - we are not criminals, we are Conscientious Protectors trying to care for our children and future generations. 

I started this Crowd Justice campaign to help all the Totnes Arrestees and now I find myself needing support. Please join the rebellion and donate what you can - share this far and wide and help in whatever way you can.

Love and kindness and rage - Sylvia Dell

Update 1

Sylvia Dell on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area

Aug. 13, 2019

Totnes & Area Earth Protectors continue their struggle - please support us

This fundraising is to support the brave souls from Totnes & Area Extinction Rebellion - charged for telling the truth about the climate and ecological emergency -with their costs as they arise from the legal process. We have had 43 arrests to date and there are currently over 20 facing prosecution, with more being charged each week. Please donate and share as widely as you can - this is an emergency.

Five of our members faced court last Friday - we thank them for their sacrifice. Donations received so far will pay for their costs arising from the legal process.

Tim and Sue Ponton, Ruth Leonard-Williams, Dinah Gibbons outside the London magistrate court, 9th August. Frank Benatt had his court appearance later in the day, so was not available for the group picture.

More Totnes and Area Arrestees

Owly Dave - David Ramsden MBE - conservationist - arrested Waterloo Bridge, April

First hearing 16th August

Statement to the Metropolitan Police by David Ramsden following arrest on Waterloo Bridge - 16th April 2019

To the best of my belief I was participating in a lawful peaceful protest about which the police were fully informed in advance by the organisers ‘Extinction Rebellion’.

I believe that it was my duty as a responsible and caring citizen to engage in a peaceful protest to draw attention to the failure of successive governments to protect us, its citizens, from the current and impending effects of Climate Change and the Mass Extinction of life-supporting wildlife.

The failure of UK governments has caused human deaths (in the UK) via climate-related extreme weather events such as flooding and heat waves. Numerous scientific papers and reports from a wide range of credible organisations such as the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have clearly shown that these extreme weather events are caused or exacerbated by the large scale emission of greenhouse gases (such as CO2) which result from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas.

Our UK governments have been warned repeatedly by scientists, the UN, and the IPCC about the dangers of continued fossil fuel emissions and have been recommended repeatedly to significantly reduce the burning of fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources. They have failed to do so.

Research by the EU has shown that the UK is subsidising the fossil fuel industry to the tune of £10.5Bn per year – the highest subsidy rate of any EU member state. The UK’s subsidy of fossil fuels far outweighs its subsidy of renewable (safe) energy sources.

Additionally, UK government policies are complicit in causing the extinction of species and extirpation of wildlife populations. For example, UK Farmland Bird Populations have declined by 55% since 1970. This is part of the current 6th Mass Extinction Event which has seen the world’s wildlife decline by an average of 60% over the same period. The eco-system services upon which all life depends are in decline both in the UK and globally.

On our current trajectory, both in terms of climate change and mass extinction, we will see the collapse of civilisation by 2100 – according to the IPCC and the ‘Second Notice’ of the ‘Scientists Warning to Humanity’ of which I am one of over 15,000 signatories.

In 2007 I was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for ‘Services to Wildlife’ and I have worked in nature conservation for over 35 years. Thus, I see it as my duty to bring this urgent crisis to the attention of our people and our government.

In attending this peaceful protest there can be no doubt that I was acting in the best interests of mankind.

David Ramsden, Cell 2, Walworth Police Station, London SE17

Note about the video - David wrote extra verses for the protest song "Climate Justice Now" whilst in police custody and recorded this version shortly afterwards. Drumming and vocals Eliza Kenyon. Additional vocals by Denbury Folk.  Thank you to everyone whose pictures we have used.  

Ted Stokes, student - arrested Waterloo Bridge, April

First hearing 12th July - plead not guilty - trial October

I put myself in a position to be arrested to raise awareness about climate change, because something needs to be done.

The police were nice enough when I was arrested. After taking photos, fingerprints, and DNA, they let me take my book into the cell, where I was kept on my own for 14 hours. It was very hot in the cell, and they said they couldn't turn the heating down, but they gave me as much water and microwaved veg curry as I wanted. They then interviewed me and let me leave.

I later got a letter telling me to attend court. I contacted a solicitor, who gave me a few confusing forms to fill out. I then went to court where I plead not guilty (along with 4 other people who were arrested), and we were told to come back for our trial in October.

If I'm found guilty, I will have a criminal record, which may make it more difficult to apply for some jobs, and may make it more difficult to travel to certain countries.

There are lots of costs involved with the trial, but because I'm a student with a small income, some of these may be reduced. However it may still impact me financially.

Thank you for donating and sharing

Totnes and Area Extinction Rebellion

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