I arrived late Friday afternoon to a determined buzz of focused conversation across the site of the Czech Climate Camp, and the number of participants more than double those of last year’s. The last of what had been almost 3 full days of trainings were coming to a close and there was calmness and clarity of purpose in the air.
After a tasty dinner everyone headed to the main tent for the action plenary where the action consensus was re-agreed on. The action consensus, essentially a collective agreement by the participants as to what actions would have the collective support of the camp structures, stated; this would be an openly organised act of mass nonviolent civil disobedience. That we would cause no property damage and avoid confrontation with the authorities and de-escalate when in contact. Our sole aim was to stop the mining operations for as long as possible simply by being present in the mine.
An early start
On Saturday morning, as most people were still sleeping in tents scattered across the site a group of around 20 people had already entered the mine and were occupying the giant diggers. This action in itself was enough to bring all machinery in the mine to a stand still. What a way to start the day!
Then, at around 8am the main action got underway in the form of 4 fingers (groups of people with a common plan to make it to a specific destination within the mine) leaving the camp together and weaving their way towards the mine. Led by green, purple and gold coloured flags we were well over 400, and with the sun and wind behind us we felt strong.
So many new toys!
I was particularly struck by the amount of kit that the police had brought along in their bid to stop us. There was so much equipment! Quad bikes, horse and dog units, a helicopter and drones and at least 300 heavily armed riot police (with pistols, tear gas, rubber bullets and amongst other things what looked like stun grenades) in shiny and obviously very new gear. Whoever is selling the Czech police force its kit is making someone pretty rich that’s for sure.
It was a crass and blatant attempt at intimidation. And while it was for sure intimidating we were determined. There was a sense that even they wouldn’t bring such weaponry into use on obviously peaceful people who had publicly stated their plan beforehand.
Despite all this they couldn’t stop us.
As I write this Saturday mid-afternoon, after a long walk back to the camp, the diggers are still occupied. Of the 100+ that made it into the mine a group of around 30-40 people made it to the very bottom of the pit, hundreds of meters below the surrounding fields. The 20 people that occupied the digger in the early morning are still in place and most importantly the mine remains at a standstill.
According to the police twitter account, 240 people in total have been detained and are awaiting processing at up to 12 police sites. Folks from the camp not at the action are organising demos outside the police stations.
We are the limits
As the news poured in about the success of the action I couldn’t help thinking back to what one woman said during the action plenary the night before:
To the Czech organisers of the climate camp this means – we can only defend nature’s limits through challenging our own limits. To reimagine and push ourselves beyond what we think is possible is how we win.
A summer full of climate action
With a climate camp in Poland on the horizon and this now the second year for the Czech camp, the growing climate justice movement is building power across the region and spreading beyond the traditional western country strongholds. These new and exciting developments are as inspiring as they are important. Climate change and the injustice of its impacts know no national boundaries.
Together we can keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. Wherever we are, and whatever our situation, there’s a way we can support these struggles: By joining climate camps and mass actions. By local organising in our own communities, targeting fossil fuel funding. And by removing the social license and public support that allows fossil fuel companies to keep operating.
We are the climate justice movement and we are on the rise.