Extinction Rebellion’s Climate Protests Pop Up In The Mountain West

A radical environmental movement that originated in the UK is now going international, with several chapters in the Mountain West. 

Extinction Rebellion, a self-described non-violent group that advocates for climate action, declared Monday the beginning of a two-week “international rebellion” marked by events in more than 60 cities worldwide, including a mass bike ride in Denver.

The group’s actions often involve disruptions such as shutting down busy streets. On Monday, for example, demonstrators blocked roads and bridges leading to the Palace of Westminster in central London, as The Washington Post reported.

John Hausdoerffer, dean of the School of Environment and Sustainability at Western Colorado University, said Extinction Rebellion’s brand of direct action is a tactic intended to influence public discourse.

“It takes all hands on deck,” Hausdoerffer said. “It takes careful, cautious data-driven scientists. It takes policy-makers who listen to all political perspectives of constituents. It takes citizens who demand change. It takes citizens who disagree with those citizens who demand change.”

As those events get underway, one Colorado member of the group is headed for trial.

Several Extinction Rebellion activists were arrested in the spring for trying to block a major road in Denver. One of them, Jason Coughlin, is challenging his arrest in court. Fellow activist Dave Robinson said that Coughlin hopes to use something called the climate necessity defense

“Which basically has to do with when you have two options and they both are horrible options,” Robinson said. “One being doing nothing and the other being breaking the law in order to bring about change.”

The jury trial is set for October 15th.

Extinction Rebellion’s presence is growing in the U.S. including chapters in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.