We need resistance now more than ever. Boris Johnson is in power, climate talks are failing and the far right are on the rise across the world - we need to respond with compassion and defiance, writes Reclaim the Power.
As Anna Vickerstaff, climate campaigner, said after the election: “Being scared of the future is a privilege not granted to others. People are already experiencing horrendous injustices and these will only be catalysed by the incoming government. The time to grieve is a luxury they cannot afford, and the rest of us should continue to fight with them.”
So we’re coming together in Sheffield on the 18th and 19th of July to get organised. Reclaim the Power is a UK-based, anti-capitalist, direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice. We're a non-hierarchical grassroots group that has been working in solidarity with frontline communities to effectively confront environmentally destructive industries and the social and economic forces driving climate change since 2013.
Last year’s Power Beyond Borders action camp was called for two reasons: to oppose Drax’s climate-wrecking plans for a new gas power station, and to call for an end to the brutal and racist Hostile Environment policy that is tearing our communities apart, both examples of systemic injustice we want to challenge.
The first few days involved trainings and workshops: looking at your rights when dealing with the police, engaging with the media, blockading skills and logistics support. Many workshops were aimed at beginning to develop skills and understanding to take effective solidarity action with those impacted by the UK’s border regime.
The camp culminated in two days of action. On day one, Hallmark coach company’s entrance was blocked with activists on tripods, for their part enabling and profiting off brutal deportations. We also held a demo standing in solidarity with people facing the hostile environment. We demanded an end to the Government’s Hostile Environment policies, or face escalated action.
This was followed up in October when a group took direct action to prevent Immigration Enforcement vans from leaving a Home Office depot near Bristol, with the aim of preventing dawn raids.
On the second day of action, we visited Drax offices with our own gas plant, and shut down SSE’s gas plant which was under construction, to call on the government to stop Drax building the UK’s largest gas-fired power plant. While the Planning Inspectorate recommended that the plant wasn’t needed, the government overruled this late last year.
Our work is huge, however we have been a small part of communities’ wins. In the Summer of 2014, we were invited to Blackpool to support the newly-formed Nanas group in their occupation and action camp at Preston New Road.
Those communities won their fight to beat fracking last year. A couple of years ago, in Merthyr Tydffil, we stood with the incredible local campaigners fighting the UKs largest opencast coal mine and it's threatened expansion to a second site. 300 of us occupied it, shutting it down for a day and putting a national spotlight on the locals long battle. Last year it was announced that the locals had won, and the mine will no longer be expanding.
It’s with this hope and defiance that people are coming together to think about what 2020 might look like for Reclaim the Power, hopefully with you involved, in whatever way you can.
Over the two days of the Gathering, you'll find out what we're all about and help shape plans for 2020, eat delicious food, meet some pretty lovely people and learn a lot.
As a network we have a lot to learn and reflect on, if we are going to achieve our aim of building a movement based on solidarity and mutual aid over the long term.
Nonetheless, we also want to say goodbye to 2019 in style and celebrate achievements, so we're throwing a party and fundraiser at Hagglers Corner with live music, DJs and freshly baked pizza on Saturday night. You're welcome to join us here for a knees up here, even if you can't make the gathering itself.
Fracking may be banned for the time being, but oil drilling continues in the UK, the Hostile Environment continues and the world will descend on Glasgow next November for the international climate change talks, COP26.
What should we be doing about this? Join us at the Gathering to decide exactly this.
If you are new to organising, or you want to shake off some dust, you are especially welcome. If you’ve got lots of ideas or you feel like you don’t know much, you are especially welcome.
If you feel we’ve got lots to improve on, you are especially welcome. There is more information on things like our solidarity travel fund, deciding the agenda, the creche, the venue’s accessibility and warm, safe places to stay during the weekend here. However, if you have any other questions or would just like to get involved in organising the next gathering, please get in touch!
Really hope to see you there. Until we win.
Reclaim the Power is a UK based direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice.
Image: Reclaim the Power, Flickr.