Climate Activist Group Apologizes to Black Lives Matter for Apologizing During Protest


It wasn’t enough for Extinction Rebellion’s Washington D.C. chapter to apologize for the inconvenience it was causing by interrupting people’s commutes as part of their protests last month. Instead, the group is apologizing for its apology, too.

Confused? Well, so was I. In fact, I was surprised that Extinction Rebellion was being so polite. It’s the group that was behind a whole slew of protests across the globe last month. It didn’t make a whole lot of impact but the group managed to make a few people’s trips to work a bit longer.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Extinction Rebellion DC decided it wanted to say it was sorry for this action, which it called Shut Down D.C.

After all, these were the good liberal denizens of the nation’s capital, they just needed a good kick in the derriere when it came to climate change. (Or the “climate crisis,” as we’re fond of calling it these days because deliberately altering language to scare people into changing their behavior always works.)

The problem is that the group was working in conjunction with Black Lives Matter DC, who was decidedly opposed to any sort of apology to members of the D.C. community. So, when Extinction Rebellion handed out fliers asking for the indulgence of those who experienced any disruption, Black Lives Matter was apparently furious.

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This led to another letter of apology, this time to Black Lives Matter.

“The members of Extinction Rebellion DC, its organizers and volunteers, wish to apologize for our failure to act in solidarity with Black Lives Matter DC in the lead up to the Shut Down DC action on September 23,” the apology, posted in the form of an open letter, read.

“Members of our communications team did not respect, and instead dismissed, Black Lives Matter DC’s hard block regarding fliers that apologized to the public for our disruptive actions,” the letter read, saying their move had played a part in “eroding trust with our black and brown allies.”

It was unclear when the letter was originally published, although the Free Beacon reported on it Wednesday.

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“Many, if not most, of us did not understand the implications of apologizing for our acts of disruption within the context of broader legacies of cultural violence,” the letter continued.

“We did not recognize how our apologies for the space we occupied reflected the regular and habitual marginalization of black and brown people at large; apologies for acts of civil disobedience, within that context, can only undermine the justified claims that people of color have to such spaces, and are themselves an act of harm reflective of those broader legacies of cultural violence and marginalization. For that we are deeply sorry.”

And it’s not just that. Extinction Rebellion says it has “failed to adequately educate our members on the complex issues of police brutality, racial justice, and nonviolent communication.”

I thought this was an environmentalist organization, but OK.

If you want an apology for Extinction Rebellion’s apology for its apology, I’m sure you can get one, too.

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Mind you, this hardly matters. The D.C. group is hardly as big as its cousins in Europe, where activists have made headlines by blocking roads and gluing themselves to the top of planes (no, for real) during recent protests.

In London alone, over 1,300 Extinction Rebellion protesters have been arrested since Monday.

D.C.’s Extinction Rebellion protests made a bit less news than that; nobody managed to glue themselves to the top of a plane, although some chained themselves to a sailboat, which serves as a kind of metaphor for just how efficacious Extinction Rebellion DC’s tactics are in comparison to its continental peers.

However, one thing that protest groups on both continents have in common is the perception on the left that #ExtinctionRebellionSoWhite.

Take, for instance, Extinction Rebellion London’s tweet some months ago after it was announced some of its activists would be prosecuted: “It has been announced that all protesters arrested during the April rebellion will be prosecuted. We are asking the police and legal system to concentrate on issues such as knife crime, and not non-violent protesters who are trying to save our planet,” they said.

A reasonable argument? No, of course not! Arrant racism!

“For those with ears tuned to hear it, the dogwhistle sounded clear,” the Guardian reported. “Stop bothering us non-violent protesters; focus instead on those frightening inner-city neighbourhoods, where black children carry knives.”

The Guardian said that “from the start XR has faced questions over its ability to reach out to diverse communities. Some critics go further, suggesting its tactics, its framing of key issues and a series of communications missteps show a carelessness around issues of race — or even institutional racism.”

And part of that institutional racism is … apologizing to people for the inconvenience these self-indulgent protests cause. Because if you really stand in solidarity with black and brown people, you would realize that sufficiently left-leaning people have the right to inconvenience whoever they want because of historical inequalities and stuff.

If these people truly realized what was up, obviously, they would be happy to be inconvenienced. Heck, once the scales fell from their eyes on their commute, they’d deliberately inconvenience themselves some more and then go inconvenience someone else.

That’s why this apology was so damning they felt the need to apologize some more. So don’t expect any more apologies from Extinction Rebellion DC, you capitalist swine. You don’t deserve common decency. I mean, unless you’re sufficiently woke, then you’ll get an apology for the apology for the apology. That’s intersectionality at work, or something.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture