Rallying against oil, cars, big box stores, and urban sprawl
For April 20th, activists in London, Ontario, Canada gathered for a bike rally; and many of us joined a "public participation" event at city hall, immediately afterwards. The critical mass bike rally was held to join the Day of Action Against Extraction, and the municipal meeting afterwards was about Wal-Mart plans for a "SmartCentre" around an environmentally sensitive area known as the Meadowlily Woods.
During our bike rally, we returned to a Shell station where we had a protest in October, 2010. Those October and April gas station protests were about the worldwide impacts of extractive industries.
The ride was our first local critical mass rally this year. Climate Justice London called the bike rally, with support from the People for Peace (London), and other local activists.
Here's a video from our latest rally against extraction.
Cortney and Jon kicked off our ride with a Party at the Pumps rap, which Cortney re-wrote for the Day of Action Against Extraction. As you can hear in the rap, local organizers agreed to support Rising Tide North America's demands for the Day of Action.
Shortly before we all rode out into the streets together, the organizers decided to scale back our original plan to ride to three gas stations. The cold and cloudy weather turned out to be bad for bicycling, and we decided that we wouldn't have any of our ride conflict with the timing of the city hall session about big box stores, and urban sprawl.
We also were surprised to find out that we were going to have a police escort for the whole ride.
Our meet-up point was at the same park where the 420 gathering had taken place, about an hour earlier. Police had been swarming the park, and one of the arrests was especially aggressive. We had planned to tell a lot more of the 420 crowd about our bike rally plans, but we also wanted to avoid inviting the police, so we at least could start one of our gas station protests before they arrived to confront us.
Once we arrived at the gas station, we gathered along one side of Shell's property. We had banners that read "tar sands climate crime", "pedal power", and "climate justice" -- along with a few protest signs.
The plans for fun and games there didn't really pan out, but Matt did play violin for us, in the rain. Yet, the coloured chalk that we had with us didn't end up getting used, in that weather. Otherwise, we might have had some hopscotch.
As we left the gas station, we rode towards city hall, where there was the session about the environmentally sensitive area. The Meadowlily Woods has been threatened by Wal-Mart for years now. The Meadowlily issues were part of our Fossil Fools Day actions last year.
This April, community members made this video about the Meadowlily Woods campaign issues. Like a lot of us, Melissa (the video maker) and Davita (the musician who performs in the video) were at our Day of Action rally, and at the city hall event.
Although many of the people at city hall that night weren't connected with our action against extraction, there obviously were a lot of shared concerns in the room. The Meadowlily Woods is one of many threatened environments, and big box stores are one of the systemic problems behind the climate and energy crises that we need to fight.