AN ANARCHIAL ORGY

An Anarchial Orgy
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AN ANARCHIAL ORGY



Written by Jared Lynn
31 Tuesday 31st August 2010
The line between protest and crime was washed away in Edinburgh last weekend as Climate Camp activists campaigned against the Royal Bank of Scotland’s financial involvement in the oil industry. An event which had the potential to generate mass public support and raise awareness for climate concerns instead descended into the type of chaos that gives protest detractors more ammunition to blitz the campaigners.
 
There remains a stereotypical view that climate protestors are a disorganised bunch of layabouts or unemployed relying on crime and annoyance to express opinions. The precise organisation of Climate Camp proves this to be a misguided profile, with organisers planning to minute details, even offering eco-bathrooms, kitchens and a media tent to protestors. Certainly not the planning of layabouts, it required hard work and preparation with a clear goal of increasing public awareness, generating influential backing and being a general pest to RBS. Despite meticulous planning and a strong ambition, organisers are learning that the actions of a select few can ruin an entire body of work.
 
Protest should be focussed on targets, not endangering the public or causing serious disruption to their lives. A protest needs support and that can’t be achieved if you annoy those you’re seeking backing from. The majority of incidents at Climate Camp were peaceful, but several events inevitably grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons.
 
 
Reports of vandalism attracted the first bouts of criticism but the main sting was directed at a small group who poured an oily substance from a giant pig over two main roads outside the RBS supported Cairn Energy. Clogging traffic and causing danger to the public is defeatist and senseless. Very few of the drivers would have been connected to RBS or Cairn and a good number might have felt support for the protestors or been willing to listen to their cause. After sitting in a needless traffic jam how many of those drivers will still offer support or be willing to listen? Very few I’d imagine; a fine way to lose public backing. The oil slick hasn’t created a longing for change, but a witnessing of criminal anarchy with no justified reason or aim which could have harmed support for future protests.
 
The organisers, The Camp for Climate Action (CCA), have distanced themselves from those involved, but they must know it has tarnished their work. News reports will be an introduction to Climate Camp for many people and unfortunately the press has mostly ignored the well-received and peaceful protests throughout the weekend. The stunt has done more harm than good and it certainly won’t have pressurised one of the nation’s most powerful banks. RBS might have been saved by the taxpayer but it has shown that it is not ruled by the taxpayer. It won’t listen if you hassle members of the public who have no connection to the bank or if you smash office buildings with stones: that’s like throwing a pebble in the Pacific; it’s hardly going to cause a tsunami.
 
Climate Camp could have been a pivotal event to raise awareness and pile public pressure on RBS. The protestors need influential supporters and Climate Camp was an opportunity to showcase their cause. Instead it will be remembered as a missed opportunity with the mistakes of an ill-disciplined few allowing the event to be falsely painted as an orgy of violence, anarchy and crime. Such reckless behaviour by the minority is making the goal of forcing change increasingly difficult. People want to support campaigners but they must stop offering ammunition for criticism. Change won’t take place until that happens.

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