Activists from the Extinction Rebellion group blockaded more than a dozen distribution centres of online retail giant Amazon in Britain in what they called coordinated global Black Friday sales protests.
Dozens of demonstrators from the environmental movement — known as XR — blocked the company’s largest UK warehouse, in Dunfermline in Scotland, as well as sites across England collectively responsible for around half of its deliveries in Britain.
The group also claimed to have targeted Amazon’s distribution sites in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, on the busiest day of the year for the retail behemoth.
The disruptive protests were “to confront the exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices of one of the world’s largest companies”, XR said in a statement.
Police made at least 13 arrests at three of the locations.
Five of them were at an Amazon facility in Kent, southeast England, on suspicion of aggravated trespass, while two men and two women were also arrested on suspicion of public nuisance in Manchester.
The activists blocked the entrances to the UK sites using bamboo structures and so-called lock-on devices, to form human chains, and displayed banners featuring slogans like “Amazon crime”, “Infinite growth, finite planet” and “Black Friday exploits people and planet”.
The activists said they arrived around 0400 GMT at the sites, which include locations in Newcastle, Manchester and Bristol as well as London, and aimed to stay for at least 48 hours.
“The action is intended to draw attention to Amazon’s exploitative and environmentally destructive business practices, disregard for workers’ rights in the name of company profits, as well as the wastefulness of Black Friday,” an XR spokesperson said.
“The blockade is part of an international action by XR targeting 15 Amazon distribution centres in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands, aimed at highlighting Amazon’s ‘crimes’.”
The protest is the latest by the activist network, formed in the UK in 2018, which regularly uses civil disobedience to highlight government inaction on climate change but has sometimes drawn a public backlash.
Eleanor Harris, from Glasgow, took part in the Dunfermline blockade.
“The era of exploitative throw-away capitalism will soon be over, either by changing to meet the challenges we now face or by the destruction of our global habitats and societies,” she said.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company takes its responsibilities, including a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040, “very seriously”.
“We know there is always more to do, and we’ll continue to invent and invest on behalf of our employees, customers, small businesses and communities in the UK,” they added.