Stroud, the English birthplace of environmental activists

Pair Lucas Minisini

Posted today at 01:12

With each blow of the hammer, the window of the bank cracks a little more. Shards of glass ricochet off the deserted sidewalk of 18 King Street, right in the center of Stroud, a clean green town in the southwest of England. This March 30, 2021, around 6 a.m., Gail Bradbrook – 48 years old, black beanie and protective glasses – redoubled his efforts to give up the storefront of the Barclays establishment.

She has just put up a poster on the facade: “This bank finances climate chaos”. Member of the group of environmental activists Extinction Rebellion, she takes part in the operation “Money Rebellion” (“rebellion of the money”), which denounces the investments of the banks in fossil fuels. The layers of glass fragment under his blows, but the window does not give way.

Less than two months later, on May 11, at 5:30 a.m., four police officers arrived at Gail Bradbrook’s home. They have orders to search his home. They do not let go of a sole, she argues, that annoys him. “I then took off my nightgown and found myself completely naked in front of them, says the activist. It was a way of asking them if they were serious about following me everywhere like that at home. “

The police take her into custody and explain to her that the repairs could cost the bank up to 1 million pounds (1.18 million euros). Indicted for “criminal damage” and “attack against a financial institution”, the forty-year-old faces ten years in prison. A first hearing in his trial will take place on January 11.

Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion activist. She faces ten years in prison for breaking the window of a bank in Stroud as part of Operation Money Rebellion. In Stroud (Great Britain), in December 2021.

It takes more to move Gail Bradbrook. In her living room, the activist, in black slippers and leggings, says she has no regrets and even finds the situation “Rather funny”. She knew the risks of the operation, had imagined “Dozens of times” the moment when the police would come knocking on her house at dawn.

In Stroud, his house is known to all. Made of brick, with a single storey, it is identical to all the others along Farmhill Lane. This is where Extinction Rebellion, the environmental movement that advocates civil disobedience (and also known by the abbreviation XR), took shape before its creation in 2018. A single clue indicates it, on a window on the ground floor. floor: a poster of the movement with its logo, an hourglass in a circle, symbol of the climate emergency.

The “landed from London”

An hour and a half by train west of London, in the middle of wooded hills, Stroud has in a few years become a breeding ground for environmental activists which is attracting more and more followers. In this small town of 30,000 inhabitants of Gloucestershire, second-hand shops adjoin a store “Plastic-free” in the pedestrian street. Woodruffs Café has billed itself as England’s premier vegan bistro since its inception in 1998. The region’s Saturday morning farmers’ market is one of the most famous in the country.

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Stroud, the English birthplace of environmental activists