One of Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) founders has urged “photogenic, sexy” young activists to break the law in front of the cameras ahead of a weekend of disruption.
Roger Hallam, who compares his tactics to those of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, says that protesters must “upset people” and get locked up in order to further their cause.
In a video aimed at young people, he tells them that they have “massive power” as the arrest of a “bunch of kids” is “worth 1,000 adults” in making an impact.
The message was posted on XR’s YouTube channel just weeks before they plan mass disruption, including targeted attacks on the British press.
During a “weekend of uprising", XR will join forces with Black Lives Matter and other campaign groups for a protest in Parliament Square on Sunday, with speeches from Jeremy Corbyn and others.
Not all of their “headline grabbing” plans for the weekend are being publicised.
The “Free the Press” action is a follow-up to their action which blocked printing presses last year in what was widely condemned as an attack on freedom of speech.
XR is also urging followers to join a march they are supporting on Saturday alongside the People’s Assembly. There is no suggestion that other organisations are planning to break the law
Police chiefs are under pressure from the Home Office not to allow a repeat of previous protests which have brought the streets to a halt.
Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, told the Telegraph this weekend that they “will not tolerate groups such as Extinction Rebellion using guerrilla tactics to shut down printing presses and deny the public access to information”.
Mr Hallam has made no secret of the fact that he believes XR followers should break the law, and tells them in the last six years he has been arrested around 20 times and been in prison three times.
In his video “Advice to Young People as they face Annihilation”, which he says that he wrote whilst in prison, he claims that all of his tactics were developed by the likes of Gandhi and Luther King.
“You have to break the law. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re going to get anywhere by not breaking the law,” he says.
The 55-year-old former organic farmer who co-founded XR in 2018 continued: “Only by upsetting people through nonviolent disruption do you open up the potentiality, the potential of creating change…
“Eighty percent of people hate you, so what. In 1961, Martin Luther King was the most unpopular man in America.”
The divisive tactics which often turn members of the public against Extinction Rebellion’s cause are said to be causing a split in the campaign group.
But Mr Hallam encouraged young activists to follow his path, telling them they are the ones with “massive power”.
“Young people are photogenic, they’re sexy,” he said. “They’re the people who people take notice of. If you’ve got a bunch of kids getting arrested it’s worth 1,000 adults, because it’s visual, and people go, ‘what the hell’.”
He also encouraged school children who want to take part in strikes like Greta Thunberg’s “Fridays for Future” protest to strike “three or four days a week” in order to get international attention.
“The police will be coming to your houses and dragging you out, and that will be in the press,” he said as he urged followers to do things that make a “material disruption to the economy”.