After two years of organizing in so-called Atlanta, we’re making a change:
We’re leaving Extinction Rebellion and changing our name to Survival Resistance.
Last year, when the pandemic began, we were in the middle of planning a coalition action for Earth Day. When the lockdown began, our coalition agreed to move the action online. At that point, we didn’t know how COVID-19 spread, and we didn’t know how dangerous (or not) in-person actions would be.
In-person actions have always been the core of what we do, and without them, we were on hold. In the spirit of coalition, many members of our chapter plunged into COVID support work, building the networks of mutual aid that are essential in any crisis (and will be even more essential in the climate crisis).
Then, last summer happened. We poured into the streets to protest for racial justice. But even though we have always declared that the climate crisis and racism are inextricably intertwined, and we have always fought not just for climate mitigation but for climate justice, we still didn’t feel it was right for us to organize XR actions. The climate emergency is no less pressing than it was, but there’s a moment for every message, and last summer was the moment for one message only: Black Lives Matter.
Now, a year later, little has fundamentally changed.
Police brutality is still rampant.
Right here in the heart of Atlanta, the battles against police brutality and for climate justice are becoming more and more intertwined.
Why the Change?
Now, it’s time for our message again.
Over the past year, there have been a lot of changes in the Extinction Rebellion movement. We’ve done a lot of thinking about who we are as a chapter and what our role is in the fight for climate justice.
And as a result, we’re leaving the name of Extinction Rebellion behind.
Although we will continue to work in coalition with many other XR groups as well as other climate groups, both nationally and globally, we no longer wish to be associated with the XR brand.
The main reason for this is Roger Hallam. The founder of XR, Hallam has repeatedly publicly demonstrated his racism and his poor understanding of white supremacy. His ideas have always been foundational to the tactics and approach of XR, which has always meant that we as a chapter have always felt that we needed to adjust and change the “norms” of XR in order to be truly antiracist in our organizing. The XR tactic of intentional arrests is dangerous for all activists, most of all for organizers of color, and the XR approach of pure disruption for its own sake usually did more to harm workers than to halt the machines of destruction and power.
Further, the XR demand for the government to create solutions always fell short of our desire to organize the solutions we need in our own community.
Before the pandemic, Hallam was actively working to undermine the movement of XR in the so-called United States by funding and organizing an alternate version of XR here that was less focused on racial justice, more welcoming to white supremacists, and, therefore, more true to his vision of what the movement should be.
We waited for XR global to denounce and deplatform Hallam, but they have failed to do so effectively. Therefore, as long as we use the brand, anything Hallam does will continue to reflect on us.
We have never received any resources or support of any kind from XR global. Our opportunities to organize and build coalitions locally and nationally have been more impeded than helped by the XR name. We no longer believe that XR is capable of inspiring the change we need. Extinction Rebellion as an organization movement has outlived its usefulness.
As a chapter, we have always been autonomous and locally-focused in our actions and our organizing, and we now feel we can continue to organize better under a different name, without the brand of XR.
Our New Name
Our new name is Survival Resistance.
Our mission is:
- to bring attention to the climate emergency through direct action,
- to build sustainability through community-determined solutions, and
- to create a mutually beneficial relationship with our local ecosystem.
We recognize that the ecological crisis is rooted in capitalism, colonialism, racism, and patriarchy, and we work toward the abolition of those systems. We acknowledge that we are doing this work on the native lands of the Mvskoke / Muscogee (Creek) Nation, with an awareness of the forced removal of the Muscogee people from this land by the U.S. government in the 1830s.
Over the next few months, we’ll be organizing with a new campaign – the most important one we’ve ever been part of.
On April 1, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a plan to build a new police training academy over the ruins of the old Atlanta prison farm. Despite its terrible history, the old prison farm now lies deep in the heart of the largest contiguous greenspace inside Atlanta’s city limits. The South River Forest is home to old growth trees, rare wetlands, and endangered wildlife. And as the largest remaining area of Atlanta’s tree canopy, the forest is essential to our city’s resilience in a chaotic climate future.
The mayor’s plan to bulldoze the forest to make way for a police training academy brings together the movements for racial justice and for climate survival in an unprecedented way.
And so we’ve joined with a new coalition: Defend the Atlanta Forest. We’ll be working with many other local groups to defend the forest against the development plans that threaten it. Our coalition has called for a week of action beginning June 20, and we’ll be announcing our action soon!
Our role in the activist movement in Atlanta will continue to be focused on direct action and bringing attention to the climate crisis. We are open to new members who share our vision.
If you’d like to continue to be part of our work, sign up for our new email list.