XR is not extremist but courageous

Dear Sir, — I was very saddened by last week’s revelation that some schools in the UK had been sent guidance by counter-terrorism police that warned against the “radicalisation” of young people into direct action against climate breakdown.
I’ve worked with youth action groups around climate breakdown through both the Animal Welfare Party and the wider Animal Rebellion movement (part of Extinction Rebellion, which was specifically named in the guidance despite being a 100% peaceful organization). 
The young people involved are neither extremists nor terrorists, but thoughtful and courageous human beings for whom the future of our one planet and all those who call it home couldn’t be more important.
Last autumn I addressed 3,000 young people at the Global Youth Strike for Climate’s Manchester event, where the students’ real depth of understanding around climate change and resource drawdown far surpassed that of most elected politicians. 
This coming Friday I’ll be speaking locally at the Youth Strike for Climate event in Hanley, where it will be more important than ever to stand in solidarity with young climate activists now they’ve been so badly disparaged by the Government.
Instead of listening to their concerns, the Government chooses to malign them and portray them as something dangerous. 
The real and present danger facing us is, of course, runaway climate breakdown, the effects of which are likely to be so drastic that these young people’s futures will effectively be stolen from them. 
The villains here are obvious, but the climate villains have lots of money and therefore huge power and influence over corrupt politicians of various political persuasions. Continuing to devastate our shared Earth to please economic concerns and party donors — whether that’s through fracking, airport expansion, pesticide use and a whole host of other normalised crimes against the environment — is, after all, one of the worst kinds of corruption.
Fortunately, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting very many teachers, parents, carers and grandparents who are in full support of these admirable young people, and who applaud their role-modelling of peaceful mass protest through the youth strikes and similar initiatives.
I invite Chronicle readers to come out in support of local young people this Friday and join them in their youth strike. 
The Government may choose to misrepresent them, but we should be reassuring them and offering them support in being vocal about the single most important issue we collectively face. 
The Hanley event will take place in Albion Square from 11am, with a march to the clock tower at around 12.15pm. — Yours faithfully,
JANE SMITH
Deputy Leader, 
Animal Welfare Party,
Alsager.
For those who missed it, a list of extreme ideologies circulated by police included Extinction Rebellion, previously condemned as being mainly children bunking off school but now apparently as bad as neo-Nazi and a Islamist terrorist groups. Most people condemned it; former Cheshire chief constable and one-time head of Prevent Sir Peter Fahy said that such categorisations risked Prevent losing confidence from communities. Home secretary Priti Patel defended the decision, although she did admit XR was a protest and not an terrorist group. She has previously said: “These protests are not harmless just because they are peaceful. They’ve also been locking arms with each other inside plastic tubes encased in concrete meaning, they can’t just be told to stand up and move on.” The police have also now accepted that the protest group is not extremist, (however annoying people refusing to move on must be). 
Editor.