EXCLUSIVE: UK climate crusader’s bid to start mass protests in the US fizzles, with handful of activists donning goofy dinosaur outfits in DC ‘die-in’ – insider reveals what went wrong
- Roger Hallam’s mass XR rallies in London shuttered much of the UK capital
- His US outfit Declare Emergency’s coming-out protests flopped this week
- READ MORE: ‘Squad’ member Rashida Tlaib urges eco-zealots to be ‘aggressive’
When he first addressed his new group of US activists, the UK climate crusader Roger Hallam unveiled plans for a huge ‘civil disobedience campaign’ of blocked highways and mass disruptions in mid-August.
Instead, the summer of chaos that Hallam promised has fizzled and flopped — a lame sequel to his Extinction Rebellion (XR) rallies that put tens of thousands of protestors on the streets of London, effectively shutting down the British capital.
This week, the US franchise that Hallam co-founded in 2022, Declare Emergency, struggled to get even a handful of activists to don goofy dinosaur outfits and stage an ‘extinction’ protest on Washington DC’s subway.
Members of the US climate group have privately said it’s been difficult to recruit on this side of the pond, where people are less keen on green issues and don’t want to travel to rallies.
‘We have been understaffed and funded, so haven’t been able to follow the plan fully,’ one of Declare Emergency’s organizers told DailyMail.com.
Commuters in Washington DC showed little interest in talking to the cosplay activists this week
Roger Hallam, 56, raised $1 million but struggled to get his US climate outfit off the ground
We have decided not to name the member, in case he faces blowback from the group.
‘When it comes to organizing movements, it’s hard to compare the US with any European country,’ he added.
‘We’re too dispersed here, geographically.’
Other climate campaigners spoke of the difficulty in staying cohesive.
Too often, they say, activists get bogged down in ‘ideological purity’ tests and petty squabbles instead of taking their message to the streets.
For Hallam, 56, the so-called ‘Week of Action’ that officially started on August 21 can only have been a let-down.
On Monday, about 10 activists sat themselves on a crosswalk at a busy intersection in downtown Washington DC.
They caused tailbacks in the rush hour traffic as motorists honked their horns in frustration.
Three women activists refused police requests to leave and were handcuffed and led away.
On Tuesday, about five campaigners donned gaudy dinosaur costumes and staged a ‘die-in’ on the Washington DC subway and at L’Enfant Plaza, a shopping mall.
A mature woman activist in a T-Rex costume tried to engage workers on their lunch breaks.
‘Do you know what happened to the dinosaurs?’ she asked a reluctant woman at a food counter.
‘We’re afraid we’re going to go extinct, just like the dinosaurs, because of climate change.’
The woman said nothing, nodded, and looked away.
The protests have not yet reached New York, the other city organizers aimed to target.
The week of action is not yet over, but what’s been staged so far falls short of what Hallam announced in his online planning session in June, which DailyMail.com was able to attend.
‘We’re afraid we’re going to go extinct, just like the dinosaurs,’ said the ‘T-Rex’ protestor
Declare Emergency members also closed down a busy intersection in downtown Washington DC this week
Three women activists refused police requests to leave and were handcuffed and led away
Back then, he spoke of creating a ‘large-scale civil disobedience campaign on the climate catastrophe in the United States.’
The farmer-turned-activist told members he’d raised $1 million in just a week to kick-start the American movement.
That money would fund weekly recruitment and training sessions and the group would swell to 1,000 members, he said.
That would include an elite hardcore that was willing to go to jail for the cause.
It would, Hallam said, replicate XR’s week-long rallies in London, where coordinated units of activists closed down roads and bridges, shuttering much of the city center and causing millions of dollars of losses.
There, activists have planted trees in Parliament Square, superglued themselves to the gates of Buckingham Palace and other landmarks, vandalized artworks in major galleries, and shut down runways used by private jets.
Hallam said such a massive disruption was possible in the US, citing the decades of civil rights protests that shifted attitudes on gay rights and led to the mass racial justice protests over the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
The seasoned activist, speaking from the UK, said his organizational tactics were ‘not that complicated, have worked in many countries, and we see no reason why they shouldn’t work in the US.’
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib gave Declare Emergency members a pep talk in June, telling them to be ‘more aggressive’
Roger Hallam (top left) in June told Declare Emergency members how to boost their profile and attract members in the US
At an online gathering the following week, US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib gave members a pep talk, telling them to be ‘much more aggressive’ as they geared up for the looming week of disruption.
Two months later, and it’s clear that despite the money, political support, and a recruitment drive, Declare Emergency has struggled to get off the ground.
The member who spoke privately with DailyMail.com complained that the US market was saturated with competing campaign groups.
‘There are more environmental and social movements than cereal options in a grocery store aisle,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘Protestors are spread thin,’ he added. ‘Maybe next season.’
Another outfit, the youth-led Climate Defiance, is also small, but has made more headlines by disrupting events with such luminaries as Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
For some, the lack of enthusiasm for Hallam’s group in the US is perplexing, given the alarming number of extreme weather events.
But Hallam’s US protests have not come close to the scale of the Extinction Rebellion rallies in London, like this rally in April 2022
July saw some of the hottest days ever recorded, wildfires have torn through Canada and blanketed cities as far away as New York in smoke, and Storm Hilary unleashed record-breaking downpours across Southern California.
But Americans are less worried about climate change than their European counterparts.
While 31 percent in the US want to rapidly switch to renewable energy sources, another two thirds want to continue using oil, coal and natural gas as well as the cleaner alternatives, according to Pew Research Center polling.
Declare Emergency wants President Joe Biden to declare a national climate crisis and use his executive powers to sharply cut emissions of planet-heating gases.
UN experts say pollution is making the Earth dangerously hot, but the US, China, and other governments have set ambitious targets to limit the risk by switching to clean energy sources over the coming years.
Though many people support efforts to tackle global warming, others eschew the tactics of XR and other hard-line outfits, which have shuttered roads, highways, airports, offices, and other public venues.
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