Arrested 16 times and only 27 but climate activist says she won't say sorry

Gabriella Ditton

Gabriella Ditton - Credit: Gabriella Ditton

A Norwich climate activist who has been arrested 16 times said today she believes she is doing what is necessary to help protect the planet for future generations.

Gabriella Ditton was among those who took part in Saturday's sit-down demonstration on Lambeth Bridge in support of nine Insulate Britain campaigners who were jailed this week.

Thirty were arrested on Saturday after Public Order Act conditions were imposed on the protest. 

The 27-year-old, who works as an animator, became an activist after going to an Extinction Rebellion talk and said today: "I was getting my life in order to have a baby and went to the Heading for Extinction talk. I realised I couldn’t bring a baby into the world before trying to fix it first.

"I started the way everyone does, with petitions, emailing my MP, going on marches. But I realised it doesn't work.

"In the future, I want to be able to say with total sincerity that I did everything I could and really mean it. I'm so frightened about society falling apart – I'm so deadly terrified that I will do literally anything to prevent it from happening.

Gabriella Ditton - london climate protest

Gabriella Ditton protesting on Saturday, November 23, in London - Credit: deniselaurabakeranalogue

"We have a rich history, we only have the rights we do because people who came before us because people broke the law."

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In recent months climate change activists have caused controversy with a series of high-profile actions, including causing severe disruption on the M25.

Miss Ditton said people are always asking her what they can do to help and her advice was that people should 'look at the bigger picture' before condemning their protests.

She added: "I think people expect me to say they should eat less meat or recycle more, but I think people hide behind 'doing their bit', but recycling's not gonna cut the biscuit anymore.

"I’d beg people to look at the bigger picture. Who are you really angry at? People blocking the road or people selling your future for profit? 

"Look at why we're doing it not how we're doing it. Individual action has failed, reform has failed, what we need is total system change.

"It is scary and it's gonna be hard work but it's gonna be a hell of a lot better than the alternative. We have to get it in perspective."

Protestors with Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain are given training on dealing with police and being arrested.

Miss Ditton said of being arrested: "It's never a surprise. I've been arrested 16 times and it's honestly fine. Though the cells in London are a lot more horrible than those in Norwich.

"We're given lots of warnings, police don't want to arrest you, especially when you're peaceful, it's loads of paperwork and they have to go to court and everything. When they follow protocol it's not that scary."

Gabriella Ditton protesting at Schlumberger, an oilfield services company

Gabriella Ditton protesting at Schlumberger, an oilfield services company - Credit: Gabriella Ditton

She says she has been inspired by activists like Ben Taylor, who told the court that he would continue to block motorways if he wasn't jailed, and Emma Smart, who is on hunger strike in prison after being jailed for breaching a government injunction that banned blocking roads.

Miss Ditton says she is willing to go to prison for her cause, adding: "If you're apologetic you get less time, I won't be apologising. I believe I'm doing the right thing. I won't let them intimidate me with prison.

"If suffragettes can do it for the right to vote, I can do it for all life on earth. We've got literally everything to lose.

"The only way they control us is through fear."

When asked about public perception of groups like Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion, Miss Ditton said: "It’s a misconception that we need public support, the suffragettes didn’t have public support, the civil rights didn't have public support.

"Gandhi said 'first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win'.

"I have real faith in people, we can deal with the climate crisis. We have all the solutions, we just need to implement them.

"Get into active civil disobedience and get to know your neighbours, the worse the climate crisis gets the more we'll need community."

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