On July 11th, Extinction Rebellion Hastings and St Leonards (XRHSL) temporarily installed 1,200 pairs of children’s shoes on Hastings Pier, in a performance installation entitled GONE.
Echoing a recent Extinction Rebellion action in Trafalgar Square (London), the empty shoes, the rising tide, and the haunting sense of absent children drew attention to the fact that young people are most vulnerable to the climate and ecological emergency.
For this action, XRHSL was represented by 56 local people, whose ages ranged from three to 92 years old, and who - despite the excellent weather - dressed in black to express a powerful sense of mourning for the loss of all our children’s future.
All participants followed social distancing guidelines, with many visibly moved as the visual impact of hundreds of pairs of empty shoes gradually built up.
Climate Change may have been displaced by Covid-19 but it has not gone away and is worsening. Children will starve in their millions. People in the global south are likely to suffer most, but climate change will have enormous impacts everywhere, including here in Hastings. We demand that government takes action, now.
Activist and grandmother, La Pethick, 83
But, in face of scientific consensus, the UK government continues to support the use and extraction of fossil fuels, our carbon footprint is rising, and carbon-intense industries are offered tax-payer funded bailouts to help them recover from lockdown.
Extinction Rebellion demand that government act immediately in response to this existential threat, which is globally significantly more serious than the ongoing, and devastating Covid-19 crisis.
In a recent polls, only 9% of the UK population want to go back to the way things were before the pandemic, and 48% agree that the government should respond with the same urgency to the climate and ecological crisis as the coronavirus crisis.
When our film crew had finished, all the shoes were gathered up, and 200 pairs were donated to a local families charity. XRHSL returned the pier to the state in which they found it, and would like to thank Hastings Pier for granting permission for this event.
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