Extinction Rebellion has been criticised for comparing activists who stood on top of London Tube trains with civil rights activist Rosa Parks.
In a now-deleted tweet, the official Extinction Rebellion Twitter account wrote: “Rosa Parks refused to move from the white section of the bus and our rebels refused to bequeath a dying planet to future generations by failing to #ActNow.
“Our #InternationalRebellion against the complicity of our governments in the climate and ecological emergency continues.”
Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist in Montgomery, in the US, arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger after boarding a segregated bus.
Furious commuters at busy Canning Town station threw drinks at one Extinction Rebellion protester on Thursday, before he was yanked from the train to the platform floor, much to the apparent delight of the cheering crowd.
One person tweeted: “Sorry… are you equating a bunch of middle class white people intentionally disrupting public transport in predominantly poor, working class, ethnic areas to – checks notes – a woman who helped pioneer the civil rights movement so black people could be seen as human beings?”
Another social media user said: “Rosa Parks was part of a sophisticated network of black activists who built inclusive strategies for resistance to build *with* people, not against them, not speaking over them. Maybe learn from them? Your leaders are open about their choices + they *are* choices to be ignorant.”
Another tweeted: “Did they just compare themselves to Rosa Parks… Who had PLANNED this action and had a community behind her to support the boycott to limit the damage done to the most affected? Unlike XR? The caucasity.”
“Disruption as a form of protest: good. Targeting working class workers using a green form of transport: bad. Invoking Rosa Parks whilst ignoring critique of your very white and racist tactics and rhetoric: truly awful,” another said.
Others have criticised the comparison for being made during Black History Month.
British Transport Police confirmed eight people had been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway on Thursday, and also urged commuters not to “take matters into their own hands”.