Protesters call for citizens’ assembly to shape policies

EXTINCTION Rebellion Jersey is calling on the government to create and be led by a ‘selected jury’ of Islanders to work on developing alternative environmental policies, which the States Assembly would then enact.

Extinction Rebellion cycle to St Helier from St Aubin's during rush hour..Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (26121341)
Extinction Rebellion cycle to St Helier from St Aubin's during rush hour..Picture:DAVID FERGUSON. (26121341)

The campaign group has issued the call after staging its biggest protest to date in which dozens of cyclists travelled along Victoria Avenue at rush hour yesterday morning.

The call to create a so-called citizens’ assembly is one of three demands that the activists have put to the government. The other two demand that the government tells the truth about the extent of the crisis and acts now to prevent further environmental damage.

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During yesterday’s ‘swarm cycling’, about 60 protesters rode from St Brelade’s Parish Hall in St Aubin to St Helier down both lanes of Victoria Avenue’s eastbound carriageway. Protesters then held a ‘die in’ on King Street.

Cyclists were met by a spell of heavy rain as they made their way to town escorted by a police van. But that did not stop them singing and chanting for people to ‘join the rebellion’, calls which were met with clapping and cheering from some commuters and by-standers.

However, not all commuters were impressed, with others shouting from their cars for the protesters to ‘get a real job’. Some of the protesters were cycling to work in St Helier.

Among the cyclists was Andrew Hurst (48), an Extinction Rebellion supporter and systems engineer, who explained the group’s aims.

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‘Our three demands are for the government to tell the truth, for them to act now and to create an Islandwide citizens’ assembly made up of randomly selected people who can enact change quicker, rather than decisions taking years to go through the [States] Assembly,’ he said.

Speaking further about the formation of a citizens’ assembly, Viv Freire (32), a member of Extinction Rebellion Jersey, said: ‘We want a citizens’ assembly, which works very much like a jury, and for them to be given legislative power to actually help to make decisions.’

A Citizens’ Assembly would be a group comprising randomly selected Islanders to broadly represent the population of Jersey.

It would, if set up, be established to consider and deliberate on environmental topics. Their conclusions could then form the basis of reports and recommendations that would then be submitted to the States Assembly.

Penny Fogarty (69), from St Brelade, explained that she was taking part out of fear for her grandchildren’s future, adding that the issue of climate change was ‘everyone’s problem’.

Asked whether Extinction Rebellion Jersey planned to create similar levels of disruption to those seen in London, Ms Freire and Millie Tipping said that while the group advocated disruption as a way of getting people’s attention, Jersey was very different from London.

Ms Tipping said: ‘Jersey is a very different place and while you aren’t going to see any of us jumping on top of public transport, we do hope to organise a similar demonstration to the one today soon.’

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