Battling to his last breath for our planet... Meet the Old Age Protester JOHN, 91, ON CLIMATE CHANGE FEARS
HE lived through the Second World War – but Extinction Rebellion’s oldest protester says climate change scares him more than Hitler.
John Lynes, 91, was seen calmly sipping tea from a flask on a foldaway chair as a demonstration shut the Port of Dover last week.
Clutching a sign saying “Sorry no food” he was arrested with ten other XR environmentalists, becoming an overnight sensation.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday People, determined John vowed to campaign until he drops “which will probably be very soon”.
The bike- riding vegetarian says he has been arrested at least 25 times, was the first person to be held by police for protesting against the
Falklands War, and did a stint behind bars at HMP Hull.
John was born i n Willesden,
North London, in 1928 and was
1 1 when the Second
World War broke out.
He s aw bloodshed first hand in the Blitz but was evacuated to
Newbury, Berkshire, in
1940, and remained there until 1944. Today he sees similarities between the war and the fight against global warming.
John, of St Leonards-on-sea, East Sussex, added: “Winston Churchill said ‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat’ and now our politicians are not saying that at all.
“They aren’t acting with anything like the urgency they acted with when it was necessary to go around killing people.
“During the war, people quite happily accepted rationing, they accepted being without a p private car, , they y accepted going short of all sorts of things, especially imported things. You never saw a banana or anything like that.
“We need right now to make adjustments on that scale. What faces us is not just conflict, it’s extinction.”
His arrest last weekend was the tip of the iceberg for the nonagenarian, who joined his local Extinction Rebellion group last year.
John spent time in Kurdistan rdistan in the late 1960s as a peacekeeper. per.
He was also arrested in demos over the outbreak of the Falklands War in April il 1982. He and a group of f colleagues stood outside the MOD and poured red dye on the steps.
John also spent five days s in Hull jail in the 1990s after er continually cutting the fences nces of an American army base. ase. He was w fined £10 but refused dt to pay so the th court sent him to prison.
Other arrests include ones for blockading b Downing Street to protest about the war in Afghanistan.
He says he would have joined 2002 protests against invading Iraq but was in Palestine as a human rights observer. John, who adopted six children with his late wife Monica, says he feels passionate about the world he is leaving behind for today’s children.
“I I get emotional emoti thinking about it,” he said. “For “teenagers now, what is their the future? You can’t feel confident. con You can’t.”
XR’S younger members have h welcomed him with open o arms.
“They’re lovely people,” p he said. “Maybe they’re th surprised by my age. ag Really, it isn’t about age. ag It’s a lot easier for an old b boy like me with a pension and d everything thi to get arrested and even go to prison than somebody who has just got married, is trying to pay off the mortgage, look after the kids, maybe even lose their job.”
And asked what the answer to global warming is, Mr Lynes added: “The solution is in people’s minds, as it was during the war. When people ask themselves, ‘What can I do for the war effort?’ which they were encouraged and obliged to ask, it’s just as important now.
“You know in your own heart whether you’re consuming more than you need.”
John is due to appear before Folkestone magistrates on October 23 over the protest in Dover, Kent. He is among ten people who have been charged with public order offences.
WARMING TO HIS THEME: John Lynes, and the Extinction Rebellion rally in Dover last Saturday