While the eyes of Britain were fixed on Canning Town last month, a smaller offshoot of Extinction Rebellion made its own headlines. On Saturday 12th October, more than 20 people were arrested during an animal rights protest at Billingsgate Fish Market.
Animal Rebellion, a group which aims to “follow in Extinction Rebellion’s footsteps”, claimed responsibility for the protest, in which demonstrators attempted to stop traffic entering the market.
You can be forgiven for not knowing much about Animal Rebellion. They’re relatively new, but their aim is very simple – to end the animal agriculture industry.
Specifically, Dilan Fernando, a member of the messaging team at Animal Rebellion, says the group “sets out to achieve system change through nonviolent civil disobedience”.
Whilst this aim is similar to Extinction Rebellion’s mantra, Fernando was quick to point out the subtle differences between the two groups: “We have our disagreements with others who are taking part in the October Rebellion – Animal Rebellion believes that animals should not be treated as commodities, whereas some in the Rebel Alliance still hold that animals should be part of the food system”.
Dramatic stuff. But Extinction Rebellion may be worried by their counterparts for more reasons than the above.
After all, splits are rarely amicable, just ask Take That, The Spice Girls or Oasis. But in Extinction Rebellion’s case, the concerns may extend beyond trivial matters.
Maintaining a consistent identity is virtually impossible when a group split. Both want different things and they’ll inevitably be conflict on the way to achieving them. In this scenario, the emergence of Animal Rebellion may confuse an already confused public about the best way to counteract climate change.
Extinction Rebellion is already struggling for consistency – leaders were quick to point out that Canning Town wasn’t an organised protest – and Animal Rebellion may further proliferate these issues. It’ll be interesting to see how Extinction Rebellion responds and if they will be able to cope with the new kid on the block.