'It's a sacrifice I'm all too willing to make': Lewis McKechney, activist ready to become 'public enemy number one' to save climate

‘It’s a sacrifice I’m all too willing to make’: Lewis McKechney, activist ready to become ‘public enemy number one’ to save climate

Over the course of two years, this former engineering student has accompanied the evolution of ecologists’ movements across the country toward more radical measures that create uproar and stifle power and conservative media. There was the Extinction Rebellion, the Animal Rebellion, isolating Britain and then Just Stop Oil – which has been campaigning to stop all new fossil fuel exploitation projects – which has been one of 100 permanent projects since January.

Louis McKechnie, with his long hair and “aviator” glasses, appeared on the screens on March 17, when he tied himself to a goal post in the middle of a Premier League match (Everton-Newcastle) in Liverpool.

"It's a sacrifice I'm totally willing to make": Louis McKinney, activist ready to be "Public Enemy No. 1" to save the climate
© AFP

“Terrified than ever” to the point of vomiting before taking any action, he managed to interrupt the match for seven minutes, drawing the “hate” of tens of thousands of fans who shouted “wanker!!” at him.

The young man, who was trained in street lighting, admits that he felt “a wave of guilt”, “but at the same time I was doing it for them.” Their government is lying to them and they have the right to know.

An angry fan managed to kick him in the head, but Lewis McKechney says he didn’t feel like it. On the other hand, he faced “hundreds of death threats” that followed, which prompted him to shut down his social media accounts.

‘selfish minority’

“I was expecting to be Public Enemy No. 1, and I’m very willing to make a sacrifice,” he says. “We knew we weren’t going to be famous,” but “if 1% of people in that ballpark searched for us on Google, that would be fine for me,” he explains. I don’t want them to agree with the tactic, just to agree with the message. “

Since his first act – a one-handed barrier – he has disrupted the red carpet for BAFTA cinemas, spent “53 hours” “15 metres” of land on pipes at an oil station in Scotland, smashed the windows of gas station pumps, shut down the motorway that surrounds London.. .

It was one of the roadblocks on this road, the M25, that got him behind bars, along with eight other members of Insulate Britain, who are campaigning for home isolation, on his 21st birthday on November 17. The judge criticized them for “violating the social contract” under which a peaceful demonstration could be tolerated.

When two inmates approached him shortly after he arrived at the prison, it was, he says, to thank him.

Not everyone has the same kindness. The conservative tabloid Daily Mail does not fail to squash this “environmental fanatic”, “John Lennon lookalike” as well as his “environmental anarchists” and “saboteurs”.

Meanwhile, the government wants to tighten the legislative arsenal in the face of the “guerrilla warfare” techniques of the “selfish minority of protesters” who are relentlessly backing down from disrupting the daily lives of the British.

“We will not stop, because we cannot stand it,” the young man replies. “We are no longer afraid of the climate crisis.”

“no choice”

How far do you go? Lewis McKechney says he doesn’t “really see” a limit, as long as the actions are “nonviolent” and don’t endanger lives.

Demonstrations and petitions “nothing has worked” for 30 years, he said. “We don’t do this for fun, but because we are desperate.” Because our voice is not being heard enough, “we’ll have to keep escalation, we’ll have to keep being more radical,” “because we have no other choice.”

Originally from Weymouth, a small coastal town in southern England threatened by rising waters, Lewis McKinney was a child when his mother was studying sustainable development in the Third World.

Elected local environmental activist, “I tried to change things through the political system, I saw them try and fail for many years,” the activist explains.

His father Alex, who is a teacher, describes his son as a “hard-working” and “calm” young man, not “naughty”, but “not afraid of confrontation.” “It’s in the right place at the right time.”

‘Pssimist’ As he begins to take action, as if to address his ‘climate anxiety’, Lewis McKechney feels a sense of calm and optimism by noticing that public interest in the climate crisis is advancing.

“We’re trying to educate people. It’s working slower than we’d like, but it’s working.”

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