Are you comfortable causing havoc during the morning commute? Do you feel excited and tingly at the thought of disrupting parliament? Have you ever been to a play and thought “this might be a good time to jump on stage and use the opportunity to protest?” If your answer to all of these questions is yes, you might have exactly what it takes to be a Just Stop Oil recruit.
Just Stop Oil is a controversial, yet widely-known, British environmental activist group. The pressure group is notorious for utilising vandalism, traffic obstruction, and civil resistance to protest the licensing and production of new fossil fuels. And, apparently, they are constantly on the hunt for new members.
On Thursday 30 November 2023, the BBC reported that all potential recruits are required to attend a seven-hour training session, in which the instructors will ask questions similar to the ones listed above. Individuals who are interested can easily book themselves in through Just Stop Oil’s website.
The sessions are run across the UK in cities such as London, Bristol, Leeds, Norwich, and Oxford.
The actual training day is split into two halves, with the first one covering introductions, meditation, a discussion on the recruits’ hopes and fears, as well as explanations of their non-violent activism. After lunch, the group then moves on to practical techniques, playing out different scenarios, such as impersonating an angry driver and screaming and swearing at each other, while practising de-escalation techniques.
Throughout the session, it became clear that trainers as well as trainees understand the anger and frustration the public feels when the group destroys paintings, shuts down traffic, or interrupts live shows on air. However, they also seem to be united in the belief that their work is serving a purpose bigger than the disruption they are causing.
“We don’t have an ethical right to stop someone going to school,” said Heidi, who ran the session. But the government also shouldn’t have the right to issue new oil and gas licences when it’s going to cause billions of deaths,” the activist argued.
One potential recruit, Max, added: “People feel threatened by us, but they should be threatened by the government’s inaction about the climate crisis.”
Online, many netizens had mixed reactions after watching the unique insight the BBC was granted by getting to join one of their sessions.
Many likened the group to a cult and called out their different role-play scenarios as cringy and bizarre. Others expressed frustration at their constant disruption to civilian life and infrastructure. However, one user on X, formerly Twitter, stated: “Would like to take one,” so I guess Just Stop Oil would class the sneak peek as a success.