Activists from Extinction Rebellion Bristol staged a 9-hour blockade of the Amazon fulfilment centre in Avonmouth today.
From 4.00am this morning (Friday, November 26) 20 activists blocked the north and south gates, exit and entrance respectively, of the fulfilment centre with a tripod and double lock-on at each gate.
The action is part of a concerted nationwide targeting of Amazon, with 12 other blockades of Amazon sites across the UK. Similar blockades are reported in Germany and the Netherlands.
In a statement, XR Bristol said they are targeting Amazon over the company’s carbon emissions, which in 2020 stood at 64 million metric tonnes, the same as the entire country of Austria. This is a 19% increase on 2018 emissions and flies in the face of Amazon’s recent pledge to be net zero by 2040.
Banners at the action read “Infinite Growth Finite Planet” and protesters spoke of the desire to disrupt Black Friday – one of Amazon’s most profitable days of the year – to make a statement about over-consumption.
Protesters were able to get into position at the gates with plenty of time before police arrived around two hours later.
By 9.00am, a dozen lorries were stationary on the approach road to the south gate. Some drivers showed their irritation but most were content to sit and wait.
Locked-on at the north gate were Simon* and Alex*, who both spoke of their desire to protect their children and grandchildren from the climate crisis.
Lying in a bivvy bag on an air mattress on the tarmac Simon said he felt ‘very optimistic being here. It feels the right thing to be here.’
Simon wants to see ‘a proper, workable, international carbon tax’ to incentivise companies away from fossil fuels.
Alex said that he doesn’t want to lie down in car parks, but ‘I find that I don’t want to sit at home and watch things unfold and not do anything about it.’
For Alex, actions like today’s raise awareness of critical issues, such as consumption and the climate crisis.
He said that action ‘is my way of doing something for future generations, so then that they might be able to have a good life and enjoy life.’
‘I just believe that we all drastically need to change the way we do things. We just do. It’s obvious, isn’t it?’
A stalemate lasted for 3 hours whilst the police assessed the situation, eventually bringing in specialist cutting teams to remove the activists from the lock-ons.
At 12.15, the protesters at the south gate voluntarily left their lock-ons, saying that the presence of the police cutting team meant that they could no longer meaningfully continue their blockade.
The north gate backed down shortly afterwards, and the whole blockade was lifted by 13.00 with no arrests made.
The group had aspired to hold the blockade for 48 hours. Of the early departure, Alex at the north gate said: ‘it’s not a disappointment [but] we didn’t achieve what we came here for.’
Speaking after the action had ended, a spokesperson for XR Bristol said the group was content to have started a conversation about Amazon and how it ‘isn’t sustainable.’
They went on to say: ‘Us, civil society, we need to have a conversation about big companies and their responsibility in our society. They need to not just be about exploiting people and the planet, but actually be about protecting our lives into the future, and we need to pressure them to do that.’
The other blockades across the UK continue this evening.
*Names have been changed.