Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists have blocked more than a dozen Amazon depots across the UK as Black Friday protests cause serious disruption to drivers.
The activist group tweeted that it was blocking meeting centers at 13 locations across the UK, including Manchester, Bristol, Tilbury in Essex and Dartford in Kent.
The group posted a video of the blockade at Dartford, in which six protesters were filmed with a banner that read: “Black Friday exploits people and the planet.”
Amazon has been criticized for treating its staff, with 1,000 ambulance calls to its UK depots since 2018 and 178 to its Tilbury site, where a worker died this month.
The impact it has on the environment by squeezing and delivering cheap goods has also been criticized in the past.
In 2018, Amazon emitted 44.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – larger than Switzerland’s CO2 footprint.
XR Northampton tweeted: “Amazon Milton Keynes blocked by Bedford and Northant rebels in solidarity with #MakeAmazonPay strikers and climate activists everywhere. #MakeAmazonPay #AmazonCrime. #ExtinctionRebellion.”
Politiet tager fat på protester på et Amazon-lager i Tilbury, Essex, hvor forstyrrelsen forventes at fortsætte i løbet af de kommende timer.
XR plans to stay at the Essex depot for 48 hours, using concrete locks, bamboo structures and a truck to block access, while a person dressed to look like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos rides on a rocket called “Amazon Crime”.
Essex Police tweeted: “We are dealing with a protest outside an Amazon warehouse in Windrush Road, #Tilbury and engaging with people on the spot to make sure it stays safe.
“However, we expect the disturbance to run into the morning rush hour and we ask motorists to take some delays into account.”
The protest group claims that it has targeted Amazon as it holds it “responsible” for environmental damage.
The aim of the protest is to disrupt Amazon’s business on what is one of the biggest shopping days of the year to force the global giant to change its “highly climate-damaging business practices”.
XR South East UK tweeted: “ExtinctionRebellion blockades #AMAZON fulfillment centers across the UK and Europe on #BlackFriday, holding them accountable for the damage they do to #PeopleAndPlanet. #InfiniteGrowthFinitePlanet.”
Protesters arrived at an Amazon distribution center near Bristol at 6 p.m. 04.00 and has “locked in” to bamboo towers and scaffolding structures, completely blocking two access roads to the site.
A road near Manchester Airport at an Amazon depot has also been closed due to protesters.
Transportation for Greater Manchester has advised motorists to seek alternative routes away from Sunbank Lane.
The Darlington Center has also been hit by a small group of protesters who crouched in the middle of the entrance road while the rain whipped down.
The protests have had a backlash on social media with people critical of the disturbance, offering similar arguments to those circulating widely when Insulate Britain campaigners blocked roads around London.
One person tweeted: “Agree to save the climate … but you need public support to get the government to worry.
“Blocking roads just annoys people and loses the good will of the public (especially the workers, if[e] taxes pay your benefits).
Another wrote: “That guys, it will get the public on the field, I’m sure. Nothing gets public support like preventing us from getting to and from work ….”
Similarly, another person tweeted: “All that has been done is inconvenience to a lot of ordinary working class warehouse staff and truck drivers trying to get home or to work.
“I did not need it s *** after a week of 50 hours! I agree to save the climate, but these actions just drive people like me away from your cause.”
Amazon’s own figures from 2020 reveal that the company’s CO2 emissions increased by 19% year-on-year despite the global shutdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, BristolLive reported.
Amazon’s activities emitted the equivalent of 60.64 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 compared to 51.17 million tons in 2019.
The company promised in 2019 to be net-zero by 2040, but XR activists say there is “no evidence of how it will be achieved and the promise does not include Amazon’s supply chain”.
Chris, a former Amazon employee, said action against the company was an “absolute necessity”.
“We can no longer live under a system based on manipulated over-consumption combined with continued, destructive economic growth at the expense of humans and the planet,” he told LBC.
“The entire Amazon business model is based on growth. As its empire grows, so do its emissions, but the workers are afraid to organize against this.
“Amazon’s union abolition tactics must have an end, and it’s time for Amazon workers to get a proper voice in how their business is run.”
The protests come as the government goes ahead with its plans to significantly curtail the rights of campaigners to demonstrate.
It has argued that a protest intervention is needed to protect the public from serious disturbances caused by “ruthless and selfish tactics” of eco-activists.
Climate change protesters had “crossed the line”, the Home Secretary, Baroness Williams of Trafford, argued yesterday as she argued for a number of amendments to the bill on police, crime, sentencing and courts in response to action taken by Insulate Britain and others to close large transport network.
These included harsher sentences for blocking highways and roads and allowing police officers to stop and search someone by protesting “without suspicion” of objects used to prevent a person from being moved, known as “locking.”
Individuals with a history of causing serious disturbances are also at risk of being banned by the courts from participating in certain protests.