Extinction Rebellion as a leaderless movement

XR Boston feels that it would be good for the movement if Roger Hallam makes a public statement supporting the fourth demand. We also feel that Hallam should no longer speak for XR globally, or be part of central decision making processes outside of the UK. The US, other countries, and local autonomous chapters should make decisions without interference. Extinction Rebellion is a self proclaimed leaderless movement, with core values promoting decentralization, autonomy, and mitigation of power. XR has to be careful that we do not allow the opinions and decisions of white men to override the opinions, needs, and voices of women, Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Roger Hallam is co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. He thought up and initiated a grassroots movement that quickly became an important part of the global climate movement. Hallam deserves respect for his tireless work, time, and energy. We feel grateful for the opportunity we were provided to start our own autonomous chapter as a result of his foresight and his work.

As part of the dialogue within XR communities, white male supremacy and colonialism is pointed to as the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis. The power structures within society allows whites, and especially white men, to take/assume decision making roles at the expense of, or without sensitivity to, the voices and needs of historically disempowered and exploited populations, including Blacks, Indigenous, People of Color, poor communities, and women. This inequality created a society where exploiting and abusing the land where these communities live, play and work became acceptable. And where treating certain populations as disposable became normalized.

Roger Hallam is an example of this. He has had several conflicts with XR groups in other countries after making inflammatory statements about human rights abuses which occurred in their country. He later apologized, but the statements hurt the reputation of Extinction Rebellion globally.

XR US was the first national chapter of Extinction Rebellion to form in the states after launching in the United Kingdom. The national chapter remains autonomous from local US chapters.

XR US is distinct from XR UK in large part due the US’ fourth demand: "We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of humans and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all."

Enter XR America. With the support of Hallam, a set of activists split from XR US and started a new national umbrella chapter in the states. XR America dropped the fourth demand for “strategic reasons,” arguing that would be the best decision for the global movement. Dropping the fourth demand allowed XR America to align itself with XR UK and remain apolitical.

The decision to drop the fourth demand and the formation of XR America occurred without any discussion with XR US and other local and autonomous chapters of Extinction Rebellion in the United States.

Hallam’s opposition to the fourth demand was widely known. But recently this June, Hallam co-authored an article which states that gender, racial, and class equality are the "DNA of the movement,” contradicting his position supporting XR America dropping the fourth demand. If Hallam has changed his mind about the fourth demand, which proclaims that human rights and the needs and voices of Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color are central to the success of the climate movement, it would help the direction, unity, and mission of Extinction Rebellion if he publicly throws his support behind the fourth demand.

We embrace the remarks by Mary Annaïse Heglar, as she expresses how climate action, her Black identity, and antiracism are connected. "This new commitment to Black people often seems to come with an assumption that the fight for climate justice has to halt. As a “Climate Person,” my social media feeds are awash in calls to pause climate activism for the sake of supporting Black people, as though the two are mutually exclusive. As a Black Climate Person, I can’t tell you how disorienting that is... It’s been documented again and again that climate change hurts Black people first and worst — both in the United States and globally. Moreover, Black people did the least to create the problem, and our systemic oppression runs directly parallel to the climate crisis.”

XR Boston stands by the fourth demand calling for a just transition.

*XR UK uses a holacracy to make decisions and mitigate for power while XR Boston uses a sociocracy

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