Update about situations and processes involving Roger Hallam from the XR UK Transformative Conflict & Justice Systems (TCJ) team

Update about situations and processes involving Roger Hallam from the XR UK Transformative Conflict & Justice Systems (TCJ) team

Introduction

This document details an update on processes that have been happening in the UK, Germany and Switzerland in relation to Roger Hallam. 

In the UK the restorative process has shifted and the situation will now be referred to an XR UK Care Council. XR Germany has come to some agreements with Roger Hallam. XR Switzerland are waiting to receive audio before any retraction or correction of the interview is made. 

We would like to recognise again how painful this situation has been for so many and to let you know that we have given everything we can to hold it for the organism. We have opened up a space on Mattermost where rebels can continue to process and express feelings about the situation. We will listen to feedback given here, though we regret that we don’t have capacity to respond to messages.

This update also contains a list of some proposed or ongoing work for systemic change in XR.

In March, Roger is due to go to the US, so we have included some relevant detail from this process in relation to that trip.

With respect, understanding and love for all the courageous humans involved.

The UK Transformative Conflict and Justice Team

What’s been happening in the UK

The UK Transformative Conflict and Justice Systems (TCJ) team, alongside SOS & Regenerative Cultures, is currently setting up an XR UK Care Council and is recommending that the situation moves on to this Council. We will share more details around the formation and mandate of Care Councils in March.

As a new and rapidly growing movement, XR UK did not have clear systems and processes set up to respond to the challenging situation where an individual made comments that were polarising and which caused harm to individuals, the movement and the wider public. We did not have the necessary cross-circle team ready to deal with such an issue which has impacted across many countries. We also recognise that we were not able to keep our promise to update the movement regularly. 

We hope that from this situation we can build on the learnings to find better ways of dealing with difficult situations with care, and as a community.

We acknowledge that this situation has been painful and challenging for rebels. We ask the most affected rebels to gather together face to face, to listen to each other, and feel heard, which will help with enabling everyone to take whatever next steps feel appropriate to them. 

It is in our principles and values to openly challenge ourselves in the toxic system that we all carry with us in some form. We are committed to creating something new to hold and transform conflict in our organism, and humbly ask for your patience, as this takes time to get right.

How we hold ourselves and each other in these knotty situations is deeply connected to how we respond to the wider crisis. By clarifying boundaries and finding ways to move forward together, we will build resilience to withstand any storm.

The proposed Care Councils will hold the purpose to care for individuals, teams and the movement. These will be gathered for both emergency cases and those where difficult decisions need to be made swiftly. They will be made up of rebels and people with experience in transformative justice and other relevant practices, and who are able to be multipartial (on everyone’s side).

The aim of a council will always be to make well-informed and multipartial decisions about accountability and care, holding the wider needs of the movement in consideration. Councils will hold the mandate of Regenerative Cultures to decide when rebels might be asked to take a pause from active participation in teams, and will put support into place for those involved.  

The Restorative & Accountability Processes so far in the UK

Many attempts at dialogue have been made in this process. For previous updates on the Restorative Process:

The meeting on the 15th December did not reach final agreements. At the end of January, the TCJ team proposed to conclude the Restorative Process, due to the withdrawal of participants, and the weight and pressure put on the shoulders of both participants and facilitators. 

A restorative process aims to enable actual transformation to happen, either individual and/or change that makes the systems better inside the community. It is clear that the change needed in this case involves many actors, circles and teams who were not present at the meeting, and the issue requires action taken at many different structural levels. The restorative process and the events and conversations that followed can be considered as:

  • A start of a dialogue. Some participants felt that restorative dialogue was not appropriate to the situation and did not meet everyone’s needs
  • Identifying/bringing issues into focus – signaling that change is needed
  • Setting agenda for next steps – although this has taken a long time and has been a complex task, some action points and commitments have come out (see the end of this update)

XR Germany

Representatives from XR Germany decided to carry on a separate and more focused process to discuss agreements with Roger Hallam. There have been a number of Zoom calls and email exchanges which resulted in a few concrete agreements for the future. Roger has committed to work with XR Germany and other groups on discussing passages in his book “Common sense of the 21st century”. This process will be set up between Roger and the politics group of XR Germany, as well as potentially members of other affinity groups of XR.

Should the group and Roger not agree, XR Germany will publish their own comments on RH’s book with the intention of separating XR Germany clearly from anything that could be understood as right wing or (structurally) anti-semitic.

The agreements and outcomes of a restorative justice process between Roger Hallam and delegates of the Project Group Konfliktbewältigung- und Prävention (Conflict team) from XR Germany will be published shortly this week.

XR Switzerland

The restorative process was further complicated when Roger Hallam spoke in Zurich in mid-January. After the talk, an interview appeared in a Swiss magazine, in which Roger was quoted condemning the Green ILimmat  action by XR Zürich. 

Following several conversations and at the request of Swiss rebels, Roger recently wrote to the journalist and asked for the audio from the interview, as he says he did not condemn the action. He has also offered to write a statement saying he had been misinterpreted. The audio has not yet been shared, and XR Switzerland awaits a retraction or correction of the interview.

XR UK M&M Press and Spokespeople teams

On 31st of January, XR UK Press and Spokespeople teams requested that Roger Hallam step back for 3 months as a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion in the media and at events – with a review of the situation in April 2020, for a number of reasons: 

  • To give respect to the Conflict Process and those affected in the movement and beyond
  • To allow other spokespeople to come through
  • To prevent the media creating ‘leaders’ that can then be taken down – not good for the movement
  • To prevent fatigue (for media and others) happening with the same voices being heard again and again
  • To allow healing and a space for trust to be rebuilt

Roger has agreed to this and is not the first person that has been asked to take a pause from his active contribution to this part of XR. It has also been emphasised to Roger that “if you speak anywhere we need you to understand that even if you say you are not speaking as a representative of XR – what you say will be associated with XR.”

XR US

Roger Hallam is due to go to the US in March travelling in a personal capacity to promote his book. We also understand that Roger will be seeing a number of potential funders for Extinction Rebellion. 

This trip has not been funded by or agreed with Extinction Rebellion UK. Roger is not a spokesperson (in person or in the media) for Extinction Rebellion. 

An open Zoom call has been held for rebels in the US, in order to discuss and answer questions about the trip. 

XR UK Communities circle has clarified that:

  • UK Mass Mobilisation team are not involved in the planning, organisation or funding of this trip, nor do they pay Roger’s VLE which comes directly from XR UK Finance Team.
  • Roger is not going to the US on behalf of Mass Mobilisation Team and is not speaking for them while there.

Ongoing work and/or proposals for systemic change in XR:

The situation has involved vast amounts of feedback about what is currently working well and less well in XR. The following is a list of projects or feedback that has come out of the last few months:

  • Guardianship & Visioning, with advice from and ongoing feedback between Regenerative Cultures, UK Support team, SOS, and TCJ, to open up to a larger process around accountability, structural privilege, power, and implicit power in XR
    • In line with the recommendation in the XR UK Strategy, to set up a process around accountability, power/co-founder power
  • International M&M teams (XR Germany M&M, in collaboration with International Support Team (IST), XR Switzerland, XR UK, and M&M XR UK) are creating an International Memorandum of Understanding on international collaboration in order to:
    • Enable autonomy and decentralisation
    • Strengthen short feedback loops and communication, consultation and collaboration inside and between teams
  • UK Talks & Trainings, Regenerative Cultures, Guardianship & Visioning, and SOS, to gather and support initiatives such as oppression & inclusivity training including gender and cultural sensitivity and antisemitism
    • As encouraged by the Restorative Process, Roger has taken part in an anti-semitism training and participated in an anti-oppression workshop
  • UK Finance and UK Financial Integrity Team, to work alongside IST and national chapters to establish systems of communication and guidelines for international finances
    • Eg. consult with and ensure that funding is in line with the values of national chapters
  • TCJ, global conflict teams, Regenerative Cultures, and International Support Team (IST) (and others should they wish), to enter into discussion and make a proposal about how to respond to broad conflicts or justice issues within the organism.

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