Climate change campaigners arrested outside the Post’s printing press are linked to a UK group whose famous supporters have been shamed into admitting their hypocrisy to profit from ‘high carbon lives’ and profit from industries with “huge carbon footprints”.
According to its website, Extinction Rebellion NYC was founded in December 2018 and was inspired by the actions of Extinction Rebellion protesters in the UK, who glued their hands to the gates of Buckingham Palace and a blockade of 6,000 people. on the bridges of the Thames.
The British group – which is distinct from its New York counterpart – has also gained fame for actions such as stripping down to its underwear and sticking to a glass partition in the public gallery of the House of municipalities in the United Kingdom.
And ahead of Friday’s protest in Queens, UK Extinction protesters halted the printing and delivery of UK newspapers in September 2020.
But a 2019 expose revealed the group failed to live up to its own high standards, with co-founder Gail Bradbrook boasting on Facebook that they flew on a high-carbon vacation to Costa Rica in 2016, during which she reportedly dreamed up the idea of the activist movement while stumbling over psychedelic plants.
“This is blind hypocrisy from a group that has spent days spoiling people’s travel plans,” fumed Paul Scully, a Conservative Party MP at the time.
The outrage led more than 100 high profile XR supporters – including ‘Doctor Strange’ actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and U2 bassist Adam Clayton – to sign an open letter addressed to “journalists who called us hypocrites”.
“You are right. We live high carbon lives and the industries we are part of have huge carbon footprints,” they wrote.
The letter also said that ‘calling us hypocrites will not silence us’ and urged the media to ‘educate themselves’ on climate change and ‘fearlessly use their voices to amplify the real story’.
Although he didn’t sign the letter, “Star Wars” actor Harrison Ford – who likes to engage in environmentally unfriendly hobby of private aviation – is celebrated by XR New York Chapter on its website, which features a 2019 video plea from Ford to save the Amazon rainforest.
But even that didn’t stop members of the group’s Bristol branch from donning Star Wars costumes to infiltrate and disrupt london premiere of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” later that year.
XR NYC was incorporated as the nonprofit Extinction Rebellion Organizing Committee by Brooklyn-based environmental artist Eve Mosher, according to documents filed with the State Department of State in March 2019.
Records filed with the state attorney general’s office identify the group’s founding chairman as Rory Varrato, who was among those arrested early Friday morning.
His personal website calls him “a revolutionary green, anti-imperialist anarcho-communist” who grew up in a “working-class family” in rural Pennsylvania and won a national merit scholarship to study American history at Arizona State University, where he also earned a master’s degree in political theory.
Since 2016, Varrato has been pursuing a doctorate. in philosophy and education from Teachers College at Columbia University, according to the site, which is adorned with the motto “Teaching is a subversive activity, and I remain active.”
Mosher – who in 2017 created a public work of art by drawing a blue chalk line and installing beacons in parks to mark the location of the city’s shoreline if the sea level rises 10ft – was the group’s founding treasurer, according to official records.
The board also included director Christina See of Edgewater, NJ, whose LinkedIn profile says she was formerly lighting crew chief for alternative rock band Wilco, and secretary Joseph Hamilton, who records show public, now lives in Worcester, Mass.
Records show the group began fundraising in March 2019, but it has not filed any tax exemption declarations with the AG’s office and it does not appear to have registered with the IRS, as required by public charities.
A link on his website also shows more than $5,600 in contributions for his “Extinction Rebellion Fund 2022” through chuffed.org, an online company with offices in Australia and the UK.
None of the founding board members returned emails seeking comment.
XR NYC has staged protests that include a rowdy march in June 2019 to the New York Times building, where nearly 70 people were arrested after several protesters climbed onto a steel and glass canopy.
In October 2019, 90 activists were arrested during a protest that involved dousing the famous “Charging Bull” statue near Wall Street with fake blood and staging a “die-in” to its hooves.
“To throw blood on the bull is to tie climate change directly to the financial sector, which funds fossil fuel infrastructure,” See said at the time.
The group also scolded traffic around Times Square a few days later by parking a green boat bearing the words “ACT NOW” on a trailer at the intersection of West 44th Street and Broadway, resulting in more than 60 arrests.
The following month more than two dozen EX NYC activists were arrested for a Black Friday sit-in in Herald Square to protest consumerism and climate change, and last year XR member Kevin Clarke broke his pelvis and broke his right elbow trying to scale the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on Madison Avenue.