A University of Nottingham student who was arrested at the Department for Transport during the ‘October Rebellion’ has said that the disruptive tactics of Extinction Rebellion need to be escalated.
Scott Blankenship, who is in his second year of a PhD in Chemistry, glued himself to the doors of the Department for Transport on 8 October.
He was consequently arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
The 25-year-old has not been charged at the time of writing.
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said that due to the high volume of arrests during the October Rebellion, many protestors are yet to be charged but remain under investigation.
At the Angel Inn in Nottingham, Scott explained every motivation he has that fuels his desire to protest.
Originally from Oklahoma, he grew up in Cardiff before moving to Forest Fields in Nottingham.
His motivation to take part in climate protests lies very close to home.
Scott said: “The thing that drove me to do this was the fact that my sister is pregnant.
He added: “I cannot countenance the world that she or he is going to have to grow up in.
“That child will be born in the middle of the sixth mass extinction event so he or she is not going to [die of old age]”.
Scott was very clear on why the public should be bothered about combating the climate crisis and defended the tactics of Extinction Rebellion.
He said: “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you have people in your life, especially young people then they’re going to be affected by this and if you don’t have anybody then you’re still going to be affected by this.
“There is a long history of non-violence and civil disobedience working and actually affecting change.
“I do not see how you cannot be bothered.”
He was also involved in the protests on the London Underground network on 17 October, in which he pulled the alarm on a train at Stratford in order for two fellow activists to climb onto the roof.
Unlike at Canning Town, the Stratford protestors were unsuccessful and later arrested.
Despite his involvement in the demonstrations on the Tube, the Forest Fields resident claims that he feels he has “not done enough”, and that the disruptive tactics of Extinction Rebellion need to be escalated further to force the government to take action against the climate crisis.
Scott said: “We’ve done roadblocks and that got us in the media for a while.
“But actually, that level of disruption is no longer high profile enough for us to get noticed.
“We need to escalate further.”
Despite his arrest in October, Scott feels unconcerned by the impact that this may have on his future career prospects.
He said: “If I go into academia no-one is going to care that I have a minor offence.
“There are actions planned that I don’t want to go into at the moment.
“I’m part of a [separate] group that plans actions with the possibility of people being given prison sentences.”
Scott has also made a number of changes to his personal life to make his lifestyle eco-friendlier.
He said: “The most recent sort of action I’ve taken is to limit the amount that I fly to see my family in the United States.
“I’d love to make it zero, but I can’t quite bring myself to do that.”
He also favours cycling over driving and has adopted a plant-based diet in order to reduce his carbon footprint.
Scott has since continued to be active within Extinction Rebellion, taking part in a ‘Sound the Alarm’ die-in protest at the University of Nottingham on 5 December.
The demonstration, which entails lying down on the ground when a siren goes off, involved a number of students from the University.
Unlike the October Rebellion, there was no police presence at the die-in.
The general election result is unlikely to have gone down well with Scott, as he is extremely concerned with how the political Right approaches the climate crisis.
Scott said: “I think we can technically [revolutionise our economy] but having politicians like Boris Johnson in power doesn’t bode well for us.”
He added: “Politicians on the Left do care more and therefore might have a better chance of doing something about this.”
However, he does not solely place blame on Boris Johnson.
He said: “It’s not entirely in their hands, because so much of our political system is controlled by corporations that we cannot vote for.”
It was clear from speaking to Scott that the change he seeks is about much more than policy shifts and changes of government.
If Extinction Rebellion is to seek out this systematic change in the way the economy functions, we may see an escalation in the tactics they employ.
The likelihood of success? Only time will tell.