There was such emotion in the air that when one of the young activists was led by the police to be identified, he winked at the press. He probably even smiled behind his mask. Some time before, the graphic informants had been taken away from the door of the Repsol Technology Lab building, where Rebellion for the Climate had secretly called a protest action against the oil company. “Repsol, far from being the solution to climate change, leads false solutions that all they do is fry the planet,” said one of the members of this platform, before it was swept away, along with the rest of the colleagues who would not be detained, to a secluded place.
In Móstoles (Madrid), where this multinational energy company has a large headquarters for about 4,000 employees, the activists chose a little-used but very symbolic door, the one that gives access to the building in which Repsol is preparing future projects, such as the 30 that plans to qualify for Next Generation European aid. “We are in the technological research center because it is the place where false solutions such as fossil hydrogen, biofuels or gas are being developed, which perpetuate a system that is harmful to people and the environment,” he explains the same activist from before, raising her voice over the drums and applause. Repsol holds the dubious honor of being the most polluting Spanish company, alone monopolizing 12.4% of the CO2 emission. They are targeting Repsol because it is one of the companies “with the greatest contradiction between what they say and what they do,” says a colleague of hers.
It is neither hot nor cold. Everything seems to be calm. “He stayed one good morning to carry out a non-violent civil disobedience action,” says the same activist, who watches his colleagues finish mounting the action. They have spent more than two hours prowling around, waiting for the right moment to unfold the banners and drop all the gadgets that they had brought, no one knows how, until there, and that they quickly mounted in front of the vehicle access, without anyone I could avoid it.
When the reporters arrived, there was even a small band playing. Ten young people had climbed up to the deck that guarded the access control for the cars and were trying to unfurl, against the wind, a large red banner that resisted them. A few meters ahead, they had raised three ingenious giant structures that, in the form of a tripod, supported a person from the top vertex, swinging in the air. One of them swayed in the wind sitting in her own wheelchair. The movement is proud to feel inclusive and to give an important place, in this case of blockade, within an action like this that obviously has a part of danger, to people with reduced mobility. That doesn’t happen often.
The police arrive in six cars and as many vans. The little orchestra performs the imperial march, as if Darth Vader has burst onto the scene.
For the more than a hundred young people who whistle, chant, clap or sing, this Monday was what you could call a rentrée post-pandemic, an act of reactivation of mobilization, a thermometer of strength and desire. They seemed optimistic about the outcome. “The pandemic is lowering its numbers but the climate emergency is still there,” says one of the spokespersons. “We are also still here. We are happy with the result because we have managed to unite, go all together and return to the protest,” she says, exultant.
The activists handle various scenarios for the civil disobedience situation they have created. In one, someone from the oil company comes out to talk to them. But that does not happen. Instead, the predictable takes place: an hour and a half later, the police force takes them out of there. Those who are hooked, taking care of the bases of the high metal tripods, are dragged away. Three fire engines arrive to facilitate the descent of those in the air or on the deck.
Finally there are 30 detainees, the same as Repsol has projects to raise European funds. One of the three lookouts is not among them. Police and firefighters have brought her down and allow her to meet with the activist group that, 50 meters away, observes the scene behind some banners. All the rest are those who have been chained to structures or perched on top. The agents place the boys and girls on the ground, sitting for a long time on the asphalt, with their arms hooked in that invisible way inside the metal cylinders. They have not been able to scratch their nose or put on a mask for hours. Before the police intervention, one of these activists, protectors of the structures, claimed to take it well, that the companions took care of them, that they gave them water, that they spread sunscreen. Finally, a police officer addresses them and asks them something similar to “by hook or by crook”. The activists deliberate among themselves and soon unhook the tubes themselves. As they break free of their armor, they give each other powerful hugs, brimming with muscle and appreciation. Of pride. Of victory.