YESTERDAY The Northern Echo reported from the heart of the Extinction Rebellion protests in Darlington which saw the activist group block access to the Darlington depot, forcing lorries to park on the side of the road, Connor Larman reports.

Approaching the protest in the blustery stinging weather I was met with a surprisingly calm site of tall strange structures above a sea of high-vis jackets.

The Northern Echo:

Although it was a protest, there was no screaming or chanting or waving banners, just a quiet gathering of people.

Read more: What people said about Extinction Rebellion protests at Amazon (they didn't hold back)

Protestors and police were chatting and many members were sipping from hot paper cups filled with tea and coffee.

Speaking to one of the protestors, they told me many local people had been supportive of the movement, with horns blaring and hot drinks and food being delivered by some.

The protest saw 30 members of Extinction Rebellion Teesside blocking access roads to the Darlington depot.

A spokesperson for the group, one of the members perched at the top of one of the strange structures, told me that Amazon needed to do more than meet its promises of going net zero by 2040.

The Northern Echo:

They said: “Amazon or an incredibly unethical company and they treat their workers really poorly and really bad working conditions for very low pay as well.

“This is particularly important for me because I know that Amazon funds the Isreali Military and obviously there is ongoing issues with Palestine and we are very much for freedom for Israel.

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“People can’t really criticise what we’re doing if they’ve not been on the receiving end of being a working class person, that is forced into a job everyday, that is terrible with terrible working conditions.”

The Northern Echo:

The protest, according to the climate action group, is set to be in place for 48 hours, and although it seemed peaceful and calm, the affects of the movement could be clearly seen further down the road.

Multiple lorries had been forced to park up onto the pavement and sit idle while the protest continued, unable to do anything but wait.

An anonymous employee working at the Darlington depot contact The Northern Echo spoke of how “deeply frustrating” the protest was.

They asked that those who “support” the actions of Extinction Rebellion to “show some consideration for those who have had their lives affected by their actions.”

They said: “The entire day shift at the depot was sent home this afternoon and the mid (afternoon) shift has been cancelled, as a temp this has cost me and many others half a days pay and some on the mid shift will lose out on an entire days wage.

The Northern Echo:

“With the cost of living rising and Christmas approaching it is deeply frustrating to lose out financially because of the actions of a selfish few who will not be penalised.

Read more: Extinction Rebellion blocks North East Amazon depots on Black Friday causing travel chaos

“They have every right to protest, but they have got absolutely no right to disrupt people's lives and livelihoods in the manner in which they have done so both today and in the past.

“The police need more power to break up protests which cause significant disruption to the public such as those today, I would urge these protestors to consider how their actions impact the lives of others and whether or not what they're doing is really helping their cause?”

When I asked, shouting over the blare of lorry engines, how Extinction Rebellion felt about criticism of the protest they told me “people can’t criticise because they’ve not been on the receiving end”

They said: “People can’t really criticise what we’re doing if they’ve not been on the receiving end of being a working class person, that is forced into a job everyday, that is terrible with terrible working conditions.

The Northern Echo:

“People laugh about it, people laugh about the conditions that working class people are in but the truth is if you have never been in that situation and forced into a job that is horrible, then you never know what it is like.”

The group stressed that they have tried other ways of getting the message across but they know that “direct action” is, they feel, the only way to make anything happen, and Amazon’s goal to go net zero by 2040 is “far too late.”

They added: “Net zero by 2040 is far too late, we already know from the IPCC report that we had 12 years and that was a couple of years ago now so 2040 is far too late.

“We are already seeing famine, draught and floods and unprecedented conditions, and it’s far too late.

“Also going net zero doesn’t help workers conditions, you have to commit to better conditions.

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“They could really commit to actually giving their workers good pay and good working conditions, they could actually pay their taxes.”

What amazoon said so far:

“At Amazon, we take our responsibilities very seriously.

"That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 - 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement - providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store.

"We know there is always more to do, and we’ll continue to invent and invest on behalf of our employees, customers, small businesses and communities in the UK.

"We’re proud to have invested £32bn in the UK since 2010, creating 10,000 new permanent jobs across the country this year alone, and generating a total UK tax contribution of £1.55bn in 2020.”

Although the protests seemed peaceful, later in the day Durham Constabulary told The Northern Echo that four people had been arrested as a result of the deomonstrations.

A spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: "Our officers are working to bring the protest to a safe end and to minimize the impact on the wider community."


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