Former XR spokeswoman claims ‘brainwashed’ eco-activists were told to cry on TV

‘I saw people brainwashed by the Extinction Rebellion cult’: Former XR spokeswoman claims activists were told to ‘fill the jails’, cry on TV and martyr themselves with outrageous stunts while under ‘spell’ of ‘prophet’ leader Roger Hallam

  • Zion Lights described ER as being like a ‘cult’ formerly led by Roger Hallam
  • She also criticised Just Stop Oil saying it is not about saving the environment

Extinction Rebellion‘s former spokeswoman today compared the group to a ‘cult’ – as she claims protesters were told to cry on television and bring their children to demonstrations as part of a ‘masterclass on how to manipulate emotion’. 

Zion Lights wrote that the group’s founder, Roger Hallam, ‘referred to himself as a prophet’ and liked to claim that war and murder are around the corner as part of a bid to inspire ‘terror and devotion’ among followers.

The 38-year-old criticised Just Stop Oil – which Hallam founded – saying it had ‘nothing to do’ with saving the world but was about ‘one man, his ambitions for revolution and power, and the innocent children he has brainwashed to do his bidding’.

Ms Lights had been involved in a string of radical green groups for 16 years and joined XR in 2018 – taking part in a string of disruptive protests including a two-week ‘occupation’ of Waterloo Bridge.

Zion Lights has hit out at Extinction Rebellion, which she used to be part of before she noticed 'red flags'

Zion Lights has hit out at Extinction Rebellion, which she used to be part of before she noticed ‘red flags’ 

Just Stop Oil protesters tried to scale the gates at 10 Downing Street in November 2022

Just Stop Oil protesters tried to scale the gates at 10 Downing Street in November 2022

However, she became disillusioned with the group’s tactics and apocalyptic world view and has since become a convert to nuclear energy as the best way to tackle global warming. 

She finally left in 2020 and, despite continuing to advocate the urgency of climate action in her job as a science journalist, was targeted by XR in a vicious statement labelling her a ‘climate denier’ and urging the media not to ‘platform’ her. 

In a hard-hitting article on The Free Press – a new media company dedicated to publishing ‘investigative stories and provocative commentary’ – she described how climate activism had developed a ‘cult problem’. 

Opening up about her experiences, Ms Lights says she began her activism with Camp for Climate Action. 

Then in 2011 she became a mother, and despite telling herself she would not put herself in danger, continued to write, edit, give talks and appear on TV as part of the eco-movement. 

Children sitting down at a blockade on Waterloo Bridge during the second day of a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group on April 16, 2019

Children sitting down at a blockade on Waterloo Bridge during the second day of a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group on April 16, 2019

A climate change activist protesting against UK private jets while lighting his right arm on fire during the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, on September 23,  2022

A climate change activist protesting against UK private jets while lighting his right arm on fire during the Laver Cup tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, on September 23,  2022

Ms Lights claimed protesters were told to cry on TV (stock image of a protester on the M25)

Ms Lights claimed protesters were told to cry on TV (stock image of a protester on the M25)

Farmer Roger Hallam who helped found Extinction Rebellion and who moved onto Just Stop Oil

Farmer Roger Hallam who helped found Extinction Rebellion and who moved onto Just Stop Oil

Who is Roger Hallam? His past litany of remarks:

Farmer Roger Hallam who helped found Extinction Rebellion wants to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world’, starting with Britain, and believes those running society ‘should have a bullet through their heads’. 

There have been allegations of a ‘cult-like’ following for the Welshman who compares his tactics to those of heroic activists Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He is said to have been inspired to take up climate activism after his farm in Wales went bust due to bad weather.  

Ironically, Mr Hallam owns a farmhouse which was described as ‘poorly insulated’ in an official energy performance certificate. His 2,000 sq ft farmhouse in Carmarthen, South Wales, was given the lowest possible energy rating on the certificate. It is unclear if Mr Hallam has taken steps to improve the rating since it was issued six years ago. 

Asked about the certificate, a spokesman for the group said: ‘This is the point – UK homes are the leakiest in Europe, with many millions of families being unable to afford the advice and help needed to insulate the building they live in.’

Hallam has also compared the murder of six million Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis to other historical massacres and claimed that memory of the Holocaust was holding Germany back.

The former organic farmer was quickly condemned by Extinction Rebellion groups in Germany after his comments with a newspaper in the country. 

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By 2018, she joined Extinction Rebellion UK, the precursor to Just Stop Oil, and was part of the group that took over London’s Waterloo Bridge for a fortnight. 

From a local demonstrator, she says she soon found herself as a spokesperson for the organisation who participated in media work. 

She said the people she worked with had good intentions – but she began to notice red flags.  

‘At my first XR media training, I was instructed to cry on television,’ Ms Lights wrote. 

She claimed she was told by a XR activist ‘people need to see crying mothers’ and was asked to bring her children to marches, describing the movement as a ‘masterclass on how to manipulate emotions’.  

Ms Lights also described a ‘healing room’ at the office, where she recalls being encouraged to share affirmations with each other, meditate and connect to a ‘higher power’. 

She claims with time she started to sense something was wrong. 

Speaking about Roger Hallam, XR’s founder, she claimed members called him a hero – and says he compared himself to Martin Luther King and Ghandi. 

She spoke of him trying to prove he was some sort of martyr through being arrested and doing stints in prison.

But she criticised Mr Hallam, saying he didn’t actually lobby for legislation or push for solutions, almost likening him to a cult leader. 

She said she used to be asked by reporters if XR was a cult and would always deny it was – but now thinks it is.  

Ms Lights discussed October 2019 as a turning point for her and others – when protesters shut down the tube and targeted Canning Town. 

Extinction Rebellion activists who enraged commuters by scaling a Tube at Canning Town station at rush hour before being dragged off and roughed up by commuters admitted: ‘We got it wrong’ as a judge spared them jail in March last year. 

Mark Ovland, 38, and his fellow protester James Mee, 37, unfurled a banner saying ‘business as usual = death’ as angry passengers bombarded them with coins, coffee and sandwiches in east London on October 17, 2019, during a two-week protest.

Mee was eventually pulled onto the platform at Canning Tube station and kicked by commuters during the morning rush-hour.

Edmund Blackman, prosecuting, said the pair were only on top of the train for 20 minutes but 48,000 people had their morning journeys affected.

After both men were given 12-month community orders, Ovland said: ‘We had the best of intentions but this time we got it wrong.’

Crowds at Canning Town underground station - where chaos broke out in October 2019

Crowds at Canning Town underground station – where chaos broke out in October 2019

Ms Lights argues JSO is not about saving the environment, but rather a group of innocent youngsters being brainwashed

Ms Lights argues JSO is not about saving the environment, but rather a group of innocent youngsters being brainwashed

Ms Lights says she was against the Canning Town action – but it took another few incidents for her to finally separate from the movement in June 2020. 

She founded her own group Emergency Reactor where she says she works towards real change. 

Meanwhile, July 2020 saw an announcement from XR that Mr Hallam no longer has a formal role in the organisation, and has moved on to Just Stop Oil. 

But Ms Lights argues JSO is not about saving the environment, but rather a group of innocent youngsters being brainwashed. 

MailOnline has contacted Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil for comments. 

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