May 5, 2021 10.17 am This story is over 14 months old

Lincoln climate activist, 72, ‘shocked but relieved’ after assault

“It’s taken me a couple of days to get over it”, Eddie said

An Extinction Rebellion activist who was dragged off the street during a roadblock protest in Lincoln has spoken about his shocking ordeal.

Eddie Francis, 72, was one of two rebels in Lincoln to sit in the middle of the road on Saturday, May 1, to protest against a lack of government action against climate change.

Eddie went uphill in the city to block traffic on the Bailgate, while another activist went to Silver Street.

A tense face-off at the Bailgate.

During the protest, Eddie wore a sandwich board that said: “I’m terrified my son will starve to death because of the climate crisis” and read a speech aloud.

As his speech was taking place, a very disgruntled motorist burst out of his car and ran towards Eddie, shouting at him to move out the way.

He then grabbed Eddie and dragged him off his stool onto the pavement, before being pulled away by passers-by.

The angry driver wasn’t done there, as he turned back towards Eddie and told him he had ‘a screaming baby in the back of the car and was just trying to get home’.

After the incident, Eddie looked very startled but managed to compose himself before sitting back down and finishing his statement.

Disgruntled drivers confronted the protestor before mounting the pavement to get past.

The Lincolnite captured the moment on video, and Eddie said it all happened very quickly.

“I didn’t really have time to feel anything beyond ‘woah, this guy is picking me up!’

“I was shocked but relieved I wasn’t hurt. I could see he was very wound up and possibly ready to snap.

“I felt tense but sort of calm at the same time, he drove away pretty recklessly and that worried me in case he had an accident or hurt someone else.

“It’s taken me a couple of days to get over it but I’m feeling pretty okay now.”

Passers-by were making their feelings known. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Eddie said he is no stranger to negativity and abuse while on his Extinction Rebellion protests, and he is well prepared for such incidents.

“In some ways I was prepared for what happened, I had a good grounding in non-violence training which is at the heart of all actions that XR undertakes.

“His was the strongest anti-reaction on the day but I did have several insults and negative comments.

“However, I was really pleased that quite a few people stood around to watch and listen to me and gave me positive encouragement. They even clapped after I finished speaking!

“I think I have to accept that it was my choice to disrupt people’s day to get my message over, so I have to accept, peacefully, whatever reaction comes my way.”