Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, who was filmed being removed by police at an Extinction Rebellion protest in London, will continue to take action on climate change.
“I am very lucky. I am elderly, I have come to the end of my working life […] I can afford to be arrested,” he told Jewish News on Tuesday.
Rabbi Newman, a long-time environmental campaigner, was among dozens of people arrested in London’s financial district on Monday as Extinction Rebellion protests continued.
The Met Police since banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing across the capital, issuing a revised section 14 order on Monday night. Over 1,400 protesters have been arrested in connection with the protests.
The 77-year-old rabbi emeritus of Finchley Reform Synagogue said he was released from Brixton Police Station pending an investigation on Monday evening after being held in custody for “around six hours.”
Speaking to Jewish News, he revealed he spent his time in custody writing in a notebook and took his siddur (prayer book) into his cell.
Rabbi Newman said he had been “very lucky” and that “everyone was well treated” in the police station. “There isn’t anything that positive about being in a police cell but it gave me time to think about what it would be like in prison,” he said.
“You had a drink whenever you wanted, a hot drink. You had adequate food and it was fine,” he added.
Rabbi Newman will continue to campaign for action on climate change. “I’ve got grandchildren […] and the thought of the world they are likely to be growing up is absolutely abominable. It’s terrifying. The speed of change of the climate is frightening,” he said.
The community should “get involved” and join Extinction Rebellion, even if they don’t wish to take to the streets, he said. “There are doctors, lawyers, financiers, psychotherapists. It’s about what everyone can do to help make this a society which is less competitive and more cooperative,” he added.