A. Fernández. Barcelona
The defense committees of the republic (CDR) have ‘hired’ for their campaigns and to give street agitation classes the British activist Roger Hallam, better known as Dr. Demo, a social agitator former agricultor who is doing a doctorate in civil disobedience and which has become a benchmark for street protests in the United Kingdom for more than two years. The Briton is a co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion (ER) and Radical Routes platforms, which advocate social changes through radical movements. Hallam will give this Saturday, on the eve of the Diada, a master class to the Catalan radicals, although it will have to be by videoconference, on the “tactics and strategies for civil disobedience.”
The conference is part of a few courses on disobedience that the CDRs carry out to ‘burn’ the Catalan streets in the coming months, and will take place in the town of Torroella de Montgrí in Girona on Saturday, September 7, under the motto ‘Rebélate ‘. Attendance is not free, but it is mandatory to sign up (and pay two euros, or 10 if you want to eat there). The master class has the motto ‘Let’s learn from the struggles for climate justice’. It is expected to last about an hour and a half, although during the morning there will also be a participatory debate with members of Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for Future. The speech that Swedish activist Greta Thundberg delivered to the UN in December 2018 will also be screened.
Hallam is in favor of breaking the law “to save the world.” His spectacular actions in the United Kingdom have gone from pouring fake blood at the door of Downing Street to undressing in the British Parliament or blocking the headquarters of the BBC, as well as starring countless cuts of roads and streets in the British capital. The platforms of which it is a part are in favor of encouraging arrests to attract the attention of citizens, although with actions that do not involve ‘violence’. Hence, in many demonstrations the activists of the organizations that Dr. Demo works with carry out actions exclusively to cause the police to stop them. According to Hallam himself, one of the objectives of activists for disobedience must be to annoy and outrage the ordinary citizen, because “the only way people change is to get angry.” At the same time, it demands a transversal and massive mobilization, exactly like the Catalan independence organizations. “Mass participation and civil disobedience maximize the possibilities of social change in this context,” is its maxim.
What does he teach in his classes?
In his classes, Hallam teaches to interrelate with the citizens he bothers in the protests and instructs the activists on what to do in each situation. It also teaches urban guerrilla tactics to hinder detentions and what to do after an arrest, that is, how to enforce civic rights in the face of a police arrest. In fact, his teachings have already been applied in Catalan ‘procés’, such as the tactic of ‘microcuts’ in communication channels (cut a road for minutes to leave the place quickly, when the police arrive, and go to another point to make another cut), which were implemented by the CDR during the last ‘general strike’ in Catalonia last February.
In March 2017, Dr. Demo began a hunger strike to demand that the university divest in fossil fuels (where it had invested millions of pounds) and invest in renewable energy. Weeks later, the center paid attention to it and eliminated investments of 14 million pounds. In fact, Extinction Rebellion was created to demand that governments commit to reaching zero carbon emissions by 2025, or else the emissions will annihilate the human race in the medium term. This is said verbatim in his blog Hallam himself.
That same year, he joined the Stop Killing Londoners group, which initiated a campaign of mass civil disobedience against pollution. On that occasion, he managed to paralyze central London for several weekends. The icing on those mobilizations was leaving a coffin at the gates of Buckingham Palace. In the last Europeans, he presented himself for the elections, but only obtained 924 votes from the more than 2.2 million votes in his London district
Chair at King’s College
The activist (53 years old) is still a student at King’s College London, where he studies civil disobedience. Last April, his movement, ER, made two camps in the city of London to protest against pollution. According to that platform, more than 40,000 people gave them their support and donations multiplied, to the point of collecting more than 230,000 euros in just a few weeks. In one of the acts, the Swedish Greta Thunberg also intervened. There were more than 1,000 detainees and more than 1,500 police participated in the control of the camps. That’s where Hallam delivered a maxim that also sums up the philosophy of the CDR: “To change the world, you have to make noise.”
This August, the British activist gave a conference in Paris, broadcast live on Facebook. A few weeks ago, he declared his idealism on the BBC: “Our goal is to create a political crisis. And if that means there will be arrests and jail sentences, let there be. ” Just one of the slogans that begins to appear more and more insistently in the Catalan radical circles. This Saturday, then, a select group of the most motivated activists will have the opportunity to listen to him live to learn how to practice civil disobedience and put the system on your nerves.
Translated into Catalan, his teachings must serve to unsettle the Spanish State four days after the Diada.