London Mining Network took part in the Climate March on Sunday, November 29. As an organisation, we did not march in the Wretched of the Earth (WotE) bloc (a coalition of visiting Indigenous delegates and Global South diaspora in London), respecting the desire for the bloc to maintain independence from any individual NGOs. However, several members of the network marched with the bloc.
We feel the need to express our regret for some of the actions that took place there, as well as show solidarity with those who were part of the WotE bloc. Having gradually pieced together the stories from the day, we are concerned that some march organisers seemed more concerned with controlling its message, than with supporting the voices most-affected by climate change.
Even the presence of private security guards, agreed by the organising coalition and hired to police the march, shows a deep lack of sensitivity to the experiences many People of Colour have with law enforcement agencies, public and private. The ways in which the climate march mirrored wider injustices that environmental and social justice organisations exist to challenge, should be cause for deep concern. From all we have seen, heard and read, it is clear that something went deeply wrong for our movement at the march, and it will require a lot of difficult conversations in order to find a just way forward.
While we can understand that the march was aiming to bring together an array of voices, we also feel the need to make clear, as the Wretched of the Earth bloc did, that ‘those who die first and fight first, must march first.’ It is critical that those of us in positions of relative power take our lead from those whose lives are on the line most immediately, even – and especially – when there is discomfort in doing so. This has long been LMN’s approach in doing solidarity work with communities at the frontlines of the struggles against extractive industries.
As a network of organisations, LMN members are constantly trying to learn from one another about how to work most-effectively in solidarity with the communities at the frontline of the fight against the extractive industries. We don’t always get it right, but we are working to make sure our work prioritises the voices of those most affected.
If other organisations would like to maintain a dialogue around these issues, we hope to be involved in a discussion that can address the roots of the racism that still shapes our movement. Let us know if your organisation would like to be a part of this critical conversation.
For a better understanding of what happened on 29 November, here are reports from some of those in the Wretched of the Earth bloc:
- Sina Brown-Davis (Te Roroa, Te Uriohau), Maori Climate and Anti Globalisation Activist on marching in the Wretched of the Earth bloc en route to Paris for COP21.
- Joshua Virasami and Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert, of Black Dissidents, on what happened on the day and why the Wretched of the Earth bloc chose to stand their ground.
- Tisha Brown, on the need for NGOs to talk about the dynamics of colonialism and racism that exist within our organisations.