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'Critical Mass' demonstration, 20 April

As a step to making Shaftesbury’s population more aware of the climate emergency and as a gesture of solidarity among those local supporters who had not been able to join the ten days of Extinction Rebellion action in London, we set up a ‘Critical Mass’ type event for the morning of April 20th. Didn’t expect a big turn out, so were duly knocked out when near on 130 showed up – in a rural conservative town with a population of around 8,000, this was good going.

In the event, walkers outnumbered cyclists, so it was essentially a demo. We did a circuit of old and new parts of the town for about one and a half hours, with a couple of stops for songs and chants, and handed out leaflets on the way. The goal was to start making people here aware that the rebellion is not just a big city thing, rather than to cause any sustained disruption. But an impromptu decision towards the end partially blocked the A350 for a short while and saw us en masse in the forecourt of the local Tesco.

Thanks to Karen and Robin for leading us in chants and songs en route, and to Richard Thomas, Planet Shaftesbury’s ‘gentleman of the press’ for coverage and pictures in the May issue of Gillingham and Shaftesbury News. Also to Keri Jones for a delightfully descriptive review of the event (with plenty of quotes from on-the-spot interviews) which can be viewed or listened to as a podcast at:

Photos: Photographs © Neil Baird | – and one from me.

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