Extinction Rebellion activists have today attempted to blame police for sparking the traffic chaos around their London protest.
Leaders of the eco-campaign group say Scotland Yard’s tactic of cordoning off roads leading to where they had set up a giant pink table near to Leicester Square tube station had kept customers away from local businesses throughout yesterday.
Shop owners and restauranteurs told MailOnline how XR’s impromptu stunt of setting up the table across a busy junction in London’s West End and having thousands of supporters swarm the area unexpectedly had cost them potentially thousands of pounds. The roads were sealed off as a result between midday and 9pm.
One gift shop owner described it as a ‘kick in the teeth’ as they struggled to pay their business rates in the aftermath of COVID lockdowns. However, a spokesperson from XR shifted the blame onto police in a statement released this afternoon.
It read: ‘The Met’s decision to kettle the giant pink table meant businesses in the area were made inaccessible to people passing by.
‘We have to ask, what has the government got against people coming together to talk? As the climate crisis worsens around the world, it is crucial that people feel empowered to take a stand and create the change world leaders seem incapable of implementing themselves.’
It comes as police revealed they made 52 arrests yesterday – on the first day of a ‘fortnight of action’ in which the group will attempt to highlight issues around climate change.
Today Extinction Rebellion, also known as XR, caused a second day of traffic chaos as an elderly woman in a Liverpool shirt was hauled away by police while activists blocked Whitehall by locking their arms inside oil drums.
A female protester is hauled away by multiple police officers amid ongoing demonstrations in central London
The grey-haired protester was carried away by police officers after taking part in demonstrations in central London
A man wearing a petrol canister is pictured standing on top of a barrel next to a man wearing a mask of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Whitehall
Police officers stand guard during an Extinction Rebellion climate activists’ protest outside the HMRC building
A protester is carried away from the crowd by a number of police officers in central London on Tuesday
Protesters are pictured with their arms locked inside a barrel outside Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in Whitehall, London
Among those activists who opted to stay sitting in the road outside the HMRC offices was a former senior member of staff. Jon Fuller (pictured), dressed smartly in a suit and tie, refused to leave a chair positioned in the middle of the road
Mr Fuller (pictured) ignored police warnings to leave and was arrested just before 2pm today as the Met attempted to bring some control back to Whitehall and open the busy route back up to traffic. Just before he was led away Mr Fuller, now retired, told MailOnline: ‘As far as I’m concerned I’m breaking no law, I’m entitled to protest and I’ve got no plans to leave this seat’
Police earlier moved on the vast majority of protesters who swarmed into the road, as most headed to Trafalgar Square, before concentrating on releasing those who locked themselves together in a home-made wooden case and steel drums
Protesters flocked to central London today to take part in demonstrations with Extinction Rebellion
Arrests are made as police officers swoop on the area in an effort to come down hard on protests in central London
Where are Extinction Rebellion expected to protest?
Tuesday August 24
10am – St James Park: XR Cymru Action Protesters will meet near Cafe at Storey’s Gate, St James Park
11am – Tooley Street, London Bridge: A ‘make pensions green’ event aims to encourage pension funds to stop investing in oil and gas
4.30pm – Cavendish Square Gardens: Code Red For Fossil Fuel Fashion meet up
Wednesday August 25
10am – Brazilian Embassy: A global protest for ‘Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Rainforest’
11.30am – Piccadilly Circus: Courage Calls To Courage: Women and FINT Rebellion Action
Friday August 27
12pm – Bank of England: ‘Blood money march’ hosted by Decolonise the Economy
Saturday August 28
12.30pm – Smithfield Market: An animal rights march led by Animal Rebellion
12pm – Brixton Market: ‘Crisis’ rally
Sunday August 29
11.30am – Ducketts Common, Haringey: ‘Carnival for Climate Justice’ hosted by Extinction Rebellion Haringey
Sunday 29 to Monday August 30
West London – Imagine the impossible rally is being held in a secret location in west London. XR said scientists, doctors, families and educators will be discussing a greener world at the 48-hour event. Attendees have to join the group’s Telegram chat for any updates on the location
Monday August 30 to Friday August
The group said it will continue with its occupations and protests at various locations in London to ‘build pressure across the week to a finale’.
Saturday September 4
Nature Rebellion March and after party. Dates and locations have not yet been announced.
Yesterday Protesters set up the table after sneaking it into the West End away from the glare of the police before around 1,500 to 2000 supporters arrived and brought chairs with them to stage a sit-in.
Eight protesters had locked their arms together around the four legs of the table and because of the threat of collapse, police were only able to release them safely this morning.
All of them were arrested and the table was later dismantled and confiscated.
The statement said: ‘We’re sad to report that our giant pink table has now gone with all rebels attached to it arrested.
‘It was disappointing that the police immediately blocked roads and access to our Crisis Talks, where we invited the general public to the table to discuss how to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
‘We still managed to pop up outside the police cordon with pink ‘crisis talks’ tables and speak to members of the public as they passed by the occupation – more than ever we are hearing that people are concerned for the future and looking for what they can do to make a difference.’
The two-week long protest continued into its second day today with activists occupying the road outside the HMRC offices in Whitehall to protest against its dealings with Barclays Europe, which XR has accused of being ‘the largest financer of fossil fuels’ on the continent.
The crowd was moved on three hours later – after scores more arrests to add to the 52-held on day one yesterday and the ten held in a separate protest at the Guildhall in the City of London.
Protests have now meandered through Trafalgar Square into Leicester Square, which the XR protesters briefly took over before heading to nearby Cambridge Circus where they once again attempted to invade the road and block traffic.
Alanna Byrne of the Extinction Rebellion media team said: ‘This rebellion is about people coming together to talk and share ideas in fun and creative ways.
‘But we’re only on day 2, and the rebellion will continue to build. So don’t let yourself get FOMO or miss out on ‘the best club in London’.
‘If you want action on the climate and ecological emergency then join us and do something about it.
‘They can crush our table, but they can’t crush our spirit. Come out on the streets in nonviolent resistance and let your voice be heard.’
Police have today been seen making several arrests – including a grey-haired woman in a Liverpool shirt – after activists started blocking the main route between Westminster and Trafalgar Square just after 11am.
The climate protest group said two women had been arrested for spray painting the floor outside the HMRC with ‘Oil=Death’, ‘Crisis’, ‘Barclays’ and ‘HMRC’.
This morning, the group drove vans on to two streets surrounding the Long Acre junction and activists locked their arms together under the wheels.
Today’s continued chaos comes despite a Met promise to take a more robust approach after previous protests paralysed the capital.
Officers at the scene yesterday admitted the force was taken by surprise when XR kicked off its Impossible Rebellion protests by blocking roads in central London, including around Trafalgar Square, as they demanded the Government immediately end investment in fossil fuels that are driving climate change.
Meanwhile, a giant pink table that brought West London to a standstill yesterday was finally dismantled by police 24 hours after it was erected in the middle of a busy street near Leicester Square Station.
Segments of the four-metre structure were seen being carried off by men in hard hats and blue overalls on Tuesday as the activist group gathered in the capital for the second day of its planned 12-day mass event.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said officers had also removed chairs which the activists had glued themselves onto and made ‘many arrests’.
A spokesman for the force declined to give a running total of arrest numbers but said 52 people were detained for a ‘variety’ of offences as of 10.15pm on Monday.
The force failed to prevent the activists’ ‘military-like’ operation, but put up a cordon in the tourist hotspot of Covent Garden, blocking off parts of the Long Acre junction with Upper St Martin’s Lane. Police have now opened up Whitehall to pedestrians but group remains in the middle of the road.
Meanwhile, police are today surrounding an Enterprise rental van which has been parked outside the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices and contains the home-made contraptions that protesters are using to lock themselves together.
Extinction Rebellion protesters perform in costume including signs draped around their necks in Westminster
The protesters wore sacks and covered themselves in white paint before marching through the centre of London
Meanwhile, a Luton van, hired by XR and driven into the centre of Cambridge Circus, has this afternoon has been surrounded by Police. A protester climbed on top of the van and five other activists, including one in a wheelchair, positioned themselves at the back of the vehicle
The group were surrounded by officers after they took a giant globe out of the back of the van and are now being prevented from leaving the police cordon. Tempers briefly flared when officers removed a bag from one of the female protesters prompting others outside the cordon to shout and chant ‘give it back’
As protesters were arrested, an XR supporter shouted ‘Thankyou rebels for standing up for our children’
A Transport for London spokesperson said Parliament Street in Whitehall was blocked in both directions and that there was slow-moving traffic in pockets of central London near Embankment and in Westminster, with local delays expected.
Mike E, 72, who declined to give his full name, joined XR in 2019 but protested in London for the first time on Tuesday.
He said people labelling the climate activist group ‘extremist’ was ‘nonsense’.
‘We’re just ordinary human beings who’ve come from all over the country. We’ve different backgrounds and pasts. We may be a little more courageous than some others but that’s all. We’re all in this together,’ he said.
‘Extremism is just a way of being able to label an organisation that you don’t like that might encourage people to take power away from you. It’s nonsense.’
Gaby, 48, from Bristol, who also declined to give her full name, said she had been campaigning for environmental change since she was at school and said XR had helped spur on much-needed urgency to the movement.
She said: ‘For years and years you do little bits and small things happen but the change we need now is so urgent that as many people need to come out on the streets to show that they don’t agree with the direction our earth is going in.’
She added that as a mother, her ‘heart bleeds’ for her sons’ futures, saying: ‘I’m a mother of two boys. One is grown up and another is almost out of school, and it’s really sad for me to know that in their heads are questions about whether it’s wise for them to have children and what their futures will look like.
‘My heart bleeds for them and all the people who are already facing the crap we have here.’
A silent protest where a group of some 20 demonstrators wearing burlap fabric and their bodies painted white also walked down from Trafalgar Square towards Whitehall.
Their robes had signs saying things like ‘Funding Climate Hell’, ‘Burned Gas Burned Our Future’ and ‘Permitted New Oil Drilling In Spite of Crisis’.
The Met said a ‘significant’ operation would be in place for the protests over the bank holiday weekend but also acknowledged the activists’ ‘important cause’.
Sixteen activists locked themselves together and had to be freed by specialist officers before being carried into the back of police vans in Whitehall today.
Among those activists who opted to stay sitting in the road outside the HMRC offices was a former senior member of staff.
Jon Fuller, dressed smartly in a suit and tie, refused to leave a chair positioned in the middle of the road.
He ignored police warnings to leave and was arrested just before 2pm today as the Met attempted to bring some control back to Whitehall and open the busy route back up to traffic.
Just before he was led away Mr Fuller, now retired, told MailOnline: ‘As far as I’m concerned I’m breaking no law, I’m entitled to protest and I’ve got no plans to leave this seat.’
Pointing to the HMRC offices, he added: ‘I used to have a senior role within the HMRC and was actually involved in setting up some of its ethical policy. What happened to that? Where is the ethical policy now?’
Meanwhile, a Luton van, hired by XR and driven into the centre of Cambridge Circus, has this afternoon has been surrounded by Police.
A protester climbed on top of the van and five other activists, including one in a wheelchair, positioned themselves at the back of the vehicle.
The group were surrounded by officers after they took a giant globe out of the back of the van and are now being prevented from leaving the police cordon.
Tempers briefly flared when officers removed a bag from one of the female protesters prompting others outside the cordon to shout and chant ‘give it back’.
Police earlier moved on the vast majority of protesters who swarmed into the road, as most headed to Trafalgar Square, before concentrating on releasing those who locked themselves together in a home-made wooden case and steel drums.
As protesters were arrested, an XR supporter shouted ‘Thankyou rebels for standing up for our children.’
This morning one of the protesters who spent the night underneath XR’s giant pink table was taken to hospital in an ambulance. Their condition is currently unknown.
The protesters’ pink table contained built-in lock-ons where protesters could attach themselves to make their removal difficult for police, sleeping quarters and a stereo system. Some demonstrators were pictured standing on top of the structure waving pink-coloured flares.
A Met spokesman previously said officers were wary of removing the giant table. They added: ‘We’ve been told that if we interfere with the table, it could collapse. We have to think of the safety of those there and our officers.’
Those involved in this morning’s protest include some of the 52 XR activists arrested at yesterday’s demonstration between Leicester Square and Covent Garden.
One man told how he had been released from a police station at 3am and had decided to continue protesting.
Despite a large police escort, activists, many clutching colourful XR flags and banging drums and blowing whistles, invaded Whitehall and ‘occupied’ the street outside HMRC at around 11.05am.
Performance artists dressed as Boris Johnson and Barclays’ CEO Matt Hammerstein were seen being served a wad of cash on a silver tray by a HMRC butler
Among the hundreds of signs written out by protesters was one reading ‘HMRC stop banking with Barclays’
Protesters are pictured sitting down in Cambridge Circus with flags and a sign reading ‘end fossil fuel investment now’
Several activists have locked themselves together in a wooden contraption and in metal containers positioned in the middle of the road.
Others are lying down refusing to move and a banner proclaiming ‘Government in bed with climate criminals’ has been unfurled.
Meanwhile, families with young children have staged a sit-in protest on the road outside the famous Red Lion pub where slogans have been daubed in chalk.
Similar to yesterday, the Met has blocked off several routes leading to where the protest is taking place.
Officers have tried to liaise with those present, encouraging them to move out of the road, as a force helicopter hovered above monitoring crowds both sides of the cordon.
It comes as police continue to free the last remaining protesters from a giant pink table which the climate change awareness group had erected in the middle of a busy road junction close to Leicester Square tube station yesterday afternoon.
Eight protesters had locked themselves together on each leg of the table and stayed there overnight.
Officers are having to take great care to avoid the collapse of the five-metre high structure as they attempt to release them.
Police moved in last night and made arrests after a small crowd demonstrating refused to disperse an hour after their 7pm deadline. Among them was a bearded protester who is part of an XR samba band and who is back today.
He told MailOnline: ‘I was one of those arrested yesterday – I can’t remember what for. It was something to do with Section 14 of the Public Order Act I think. I was taken to Plumstead police station in South London and they let me out at 3am this morning.
‘I’m back here protesting because it’s important but I’m not going to risk getting arrested again as it’s too early in proceedings – we’re only on day two. To be honest, I didn’t plan to get lifted yesterday but it kind of happened, it was one of those things.’
An Extinction Rebellion tweet called for reinforcements in Whitehall as the protest continued for a second day
An employee in Westminster tweeted a video showing protesters flooding into the road to block traffic
Protesters placed music as they gathered in central London near Parliament on day two of a 12-day protest
A woman stood on a concrete bollard as police surrounded XR protesters in Whitehall amid demonstrations on Tuesday
Police patrol in central London where environmental activists constructed a large pink table on Monday
Protesters were pictured underneath the table this morning after spending the night chained to the structure
Environmental activists sat wearing blankets to keep warm this morning as police patrolled nearby
One man wore a suit as he joined protesters underneath the giant pink table ahead of another day of demonstration
Today’s protest has been spearheaded by XR activists who have travelled into London from South Wales to highlight how much of the Welsh coast is at risk from severe flooding in the near future if sea levels continue to rise.
A spokesman for XR confirmed in a statement today: ‘On Tuesday 24th August, the second day of Extinction Rebellion protests in London, over 50 people from XR Wales occupied Parliament Street, outside HMRC offices, to demand HMRC end their relationship with Barclays, Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels.
‘They were joined by thousands of others shortly after who were there to take part in the Impossible Rebellion. At around 11 AM, activists from Wales arrived at the HMRC building holding banners saying, ‘Government in bed with climate criminals’ and ‘Trethi i Barclays = Llifogydd yng Nghymru’ (Taxes for Barclays = Flooding in Wales).
‘Members of XR Wales performed slapstick skits which depicted Boris Johnson and Barclays’ CEO Matt Hammerstein, being served cash on a silver tray from a HMRC butler, whilst tea was served from an oil can to an ‘old boys’ club’ tea party.
‘Regular invitations were made to staff working in the HMRC building to come out to a table which had been set up in Parliament Street, to discuss their banking relationship with Barclays, who are widely documented to be Europe’s biggest funder of tar sands, fracked oil and gas, coal power and fossil fuels, since the Paris Climate Agreement.
Workers remove part of a large pink structure that had been used by environmental activists from Extinction Rebellion to block the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane in London
Protesters camped underneath a giant pink table in central London on Monday night as Extinction Rebellion’s demonstration enters its second day
Extinction Rebellion activists take to the streets of London to protest for the climate and ecological emergency
This morning one of the protesters who spent the night underneath the table was taken to hospital in an ambulance. Their condition is currently unknown
‘Chalk spray was used to create a dramatic image of dripping oil and blood and pre-recorded testimonies from people in the UK and the Global South, who have been impacted from flooding events caused by climate change, were played on a loop. Flooding experts and politicians spoke about their own experiences of dealing with extreme weather as the protest unfolded.
’HMRC currently uses Barclays’ payment solutions to process National Insurance and Self-Assessment tax payments, Child Benefit repayments and a range of other HMRC transactions.
‘Protestors say this is an unacceptable relationship since Barclays invest their profits into financing the fossil fuel industry, with over £104 billion having been invested since the Paris Climate Agreement, leaving tax payers no choice but to be complicit in environmental exploitation without their consent or knowledge.’
One of those who had travelled in from South Wales, Calum Macintosh, said today: ‘I’m here because I’m outraged that HMRC has this contract with Barclays, yet the general public are unaware of the role Barclays have in the climate crisis.
‘It’s not fair that we have no choice in this when we conduct our business with HMRC. Many Welsh coastal areas are now in grave danger of flooding and this is particularly worrying for me because my own home was flooded in Storm Dennis last year and it’s now difficult for me to get home insurance because we think it will happen again.
‘Westminster is pandering to the billionaires who profit from fossil fuels.’
Police officers scramble to restrain Extinction Rebellion protesters outside HMRC on Whitehall on Tuesday
Extinction Rebellion protesters wave signs and flags in Whitehall on the second day of protests in London
A protesters is restrained by police while musicians bang drums behind him on the second day of demonstrations
Demonstrators play on instruments during an Extinction Rebellion climate activists’ protest on Tuesday
A demonstrator is pictured riding a tall bike ahead of a crowd of activists with drums and other instruments
A man wearing a suit is taken away by police outside HMRC in central London on Tuesday afternoon
Police and demonstrators during a protest by members of Extinction Rebellion on Whitehall in central London
According to XR, those living on the Welsh coast are most vulnerable to rising sea levels with Gwynedd council drawing up plans to move the 850 residents of Fairbourne on the northern coast out of their homes should current forecasts worsen.
Rhiannon Hargreaves, a financial analyst from Cardiff who joined today’s protest said: ‘We’ve COP26 coming up – how can the UK government possibly claim to be a world leader on climate action whilst bankrolling Barclays with public money? There are absolutely no excuses for HMRC signing contracts with a bank which causes so much harm to the climate. In just three years from 2016 to 2018,
‘Barclays provided $85 billion in funding to fossil fuel companies and tens of billions continue to be invested each year, yet global wildfires and flooding are causing devastating destruction to so many regions. These events will continue, with the poorest hardest hit.’
Extinction Rebellion Cymru spokesperson, David France, added: ‘The latest IPCC report could not be clearer: the changes we are living through are unprecedented but reversible to a certain extent if we reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.’
A smaller separate protest was held outside London Bridge station this morning by older XR activists calling for an end to pension funds investing in fossil fuels.
Yesterday, police finally began making mass arrests after London’s West End was paralysed for hours when demonstrators ignored repeated demands – made by loudspeaker – for them to leave the area.
Before mass arrests at 8pm, the Metropolitan police had detained just eight people, despite the fact the protest began at midday. By 10.15pm on Monday, the police said the the number of arrests had increased to 52.
The protest forced police to close several roads around the area which would normally be thronged with tourists and families sightseeing.
At 10am this morning XR Cymru Action protesters met near Cafe at Storey’s Gate in St James Park before a ‘make pensions green’ event at London Bridge at 11am.
Later this afternoon demonstrators will gather at Cavendish Square Gardens for a Code Red For Fossil Fuel Fashion meet up at 4.30pm.
On Monday, several protesters were seen being carried into police vans as crowds chanted ‘shame on you.’ A small crowd has remained under the giant table near Leicester Square tube station. Officers said that they will be confiscating the table when the protesters are finally cleared.
The group blindsided officers by converging on Trafalgar Square on Monday to begin two weeks of what they described as ‘impossible rebellion’.
The group further outsmarted officers by driving vans on two streets surrounding the Long Acre junction, before activists locked chained themselves together while lying under the vehicles’ wheels.
The Met has promised to take a harsher approach after previous Extinction Rebellion demonstrations paralysed the capital.
Officers initially tried to bring the protest to an early end by putting in place a cordon which allowed people to leave the area but not to return to it.
But this resulted in the area being occupied almost entirely by protesters, forcing the police to move some of their cordons.
Shop owners, restaurateurs and accountants have been among those to slam the selfish actions of XR activists as they shared their fury at facing further obstacles on the road to recovery after an already challenging 18-month period.
Mustafa Ahmadi, 37, who runs Star Gifts near to Leicester Square tube station, fears he could lose as much as £10,000 by the end of the week because of the climate change demo.
His gift shop is close to where thousands of XR protesters have set up a giant pink table and occupied a busy road junction in between Leicester Square and Covent Garden.
Mr Ahmadi described the protest as ‘another kick in the teeth’ for local businesses and warned the financial impact could be akin to another lockdown.
He said: ‘It’s like another lockdown because the shop is so quiet. It’s not just me but other businesses around here.
‘The police have many of the roads locked off and so the tourists and families who we would normally see are being kept out.
‘It’s another kick in the teeth. I could lose £10,000 if this carries on to the end of the week.
Thousands swarmed onto a busy road junction between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, which has now become the focal point for the XR’s two-week long climate change protest.
Commenting on the table stunt, a spokesperson said that four activists ’emerged from the truck that carried the huge object into the square and climbed onto the table’.
The group say they are now ‘preparing to stay for the long haul and occupy the square’.
The spokesperson added: ‘The table launched XR’s Impossible Rebellion, bringing the seemingly impossible to life in outlandish Extinction Rebellion style.
‘The table – packed with a number of built in lock ons, sleeping quarters and its own stereo system – was followed by thousands of marchers from Trafalgar Square who arrived to demand the impossible, many of whom were equipped with pink chairs.
‘As floods, fire and famine break out around the world, it is clear that climate breakdown is here now, and there is no choice left now but to take urgent action.
‘Everyone deserves a seat at the table to have a say in how to tackle the greatest crisis of our times.’
Mr Ahmadi, whose business was shut throughout the lockdown at the start of the year, said: ‘I’m trying to cover what I lost during the Pandemic and this is not helping.
He told MailOnline: ‘They gave us no warning. Many protests come past the shop but we are always given notification. Not today, the protesters turned up just after midday and closed the area down.
‘I’ve no idea how long they plan to stick around. I hope they make their point quickly and then go. Otherwise I want the police to do their job and move them on.
‘We’ve only just re-opened after lockdown and the footfall is already down significantly since the protest began.’
Roberta Marzocca, general manger of the Pizza Pilgrims restaurant, said: ‘We were closed down completely between December and May because of lockdown, the last thing we need is to be hit financially again.
‘The police have some of the roads cordoned off but we hope customers will still come. It’s still too early to tell if we’ll be negatively affected – I really hope not.’
At around 6pm on Monday evening, the Met announced on Twitter that the protest on the junction of Long Acre Long Acre, St Martins Lane and Garrick Street had to end by 7pm.
When that was ignored, they began moving in to make mass arrests.
Four protesters who had chained themselves themselves together under the front wheel arches of an open top van, which had been parked nearby on Garrick Street, finally began to be removed by officers.
Another two protesters had earlier climbed on top of the van waving XR flags as police watched on.
At around 6pm, officers moved in and arrested four protesters who had fixed themselves to another van parked on St Martins Lane, near the Noel Coward Theatre.
Police officers, specially trained to work at heights and to separate people who chain or lock themselves together, were brought in from neighbouring Thames Valley Police but also from as far afield as Merseyside.
Police have pledged to take a more robust approach to Extinction Rebellion protesters to stop them from paralysing London as they did two years ago.
Activists form the climate change awareness group have set up a giant pink table in the middle of the West End and a crowd of thousands has gathered around it, bringing a bustling part of the city between Leicester Square and Covent Garden to a standstill.
But a senior officer at the scene told MailOnline the protesters would not be allowed to occupy the area for days on end like they did during the last summer protests in 2019.
A protester holding a drum stick is pictured during an Extinction Rebellion climate activists’ protest in London on Tuesday
A man plays a drum during an Extinction Rebellion climate activists’ protest in central London on Tuesday
There were no demonstrations last year due to the Coronavirus pandemic but two years ago, XR protesters brought in a pink boat and put it in the middle of Oxford Circus where they remained for a fortnight.
The officer said: ‘You saw the chaos Extinction Rebellion caused during their summer protest in 2019 and how the Met was criticised for not doing enough to stop it.
‘That won’t be allowed to happen again.
‘The protesters who have set up the pink table want to remain in the area for a considerable amount of time, potentially days, but we have teams ready to move them on.
‘Some protesters have chained themselves under a vehicle but we have teams ready to react to that too.
‘They took us by surprise today, we didn’t know they were planning on pitching up here until they put the giant table structure up. Precautions had been put in place in other parts of London but this was unexpected.
‘We now hope they move on, we are not anticipating violence as this is civil disobedience rather than anything more sinister.
‘It’s also just the start of two weeks worth of protests and nobody wants to get arrested so early on.
‘But when the time comes – most likely later today – the protesters will be cleared from the area because we also have a duty to those business owners whose trade may be affected negatively due to this protest.’
Police finally began making mass arrests on Monday evening after London’s West End was paralysed for hours by Extinction Rebellion protesters who had erected a giant pink table in the middle of the road
Officers moved in after demonstrators ignored repeated demands – made by loudspeaker – for them to leave the area
Until they began making mass arrests at 8pm, the Metropolitan police had detained just eight people, despite the fact that the protest began at midday. Above: Police remove a demonstrator from the Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane junction
Several protesters were seen being carried into police vans as crowds chanted ‘shame on you’
Police make arrests at the Extinction Rebellion protest on the junction of Long Acre, St Martins Lane and Garrick Street
Officers responded after protesters erected a huge piece of pink furniture – which had the words ‘Change is Now’ written on it – on the junction of Long Acre, St Martins Lane and Garrick Street
Pictures showed officers making mass arrests after protesters ignored a directive that they had to disperse by 7pm
This man was seen with a smile on his face as he was carried away by three officers during the protest in the West End
Another man who was being arrested lay limply, meaning five officers were needed to support him as he was carried away
This woman was seen having her head supported by a female officer as she was removed from her position at the protest
Protesters block the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane with a large pink structure with ‘Come to the Table’ written on it
Extinction Rebellion protestors link arms under a van on Garrick Street, London during their demonstration this afternoon
A topless Extinction Rebellion demonstrator in central London holds a cardboard placard imploring people to help reverse the effects of climate change
Extinction Rebellion climate activists install a giant table during a protest, in central London on Monday
One of the protesters who had chained herself to the van said she was called ‘Rosie’ and had travelled to London from the Midlands.
She locked herself in place just after midday and did not know any of the other protesters doing the same.
She said: ‘I am doing this in solidarity with all those who have lost lives, lost homes and lost livelihoods due to the effects of climate change.
‘This is for those who had suffered from the horrendous floods and wildfires, for those people on small island nations which are at risk of being lost to the sea.
‘The rational response is to do something about this – to do what we can. I’ve no idea if this is going to work but I have to try and do something. It’s no good just burying my head.
‘My mood is one of determination, I want to stay here under the van for as long as possible, for as long as it takes.’
The crowd had earlier meandered through the West End, past theatres, from Trafalgar Square where the protest had begun just after 10am.
Samba bands banged drums and blew whistles and protesters chanted slogans under the watchful gaze of hundreds of police officers, who are attempting to stop London from being paralysed as in previous years.
However, frustrated motorists in vans and lorries brought to a standstill vented their anger at being caught up in the traffic nightmare.
One refrigerator repairman fumed: ‘It’s hard enough getting through London at the best of times let alone when people are blocking the road.
‘I get that they are protesting but I’m trying to get to work and so are many other people. It’s not on’
Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the activist group, opened the ‘Impossible Rebellion’ with a speech expressing solidarity with nations that are disproportionately affected by climate change.
Campaigners held placards with messages including ‘Code red, where’s the action’ while four people were dressed as the sea in a warning over rising sea levels.
The demonstration signals the start of a fortnight’s action by Extinction Rebellion (XR), who are staging various protests across the capital.
A small group of activists started early Sunday, with three of them scaling the Guildhall in the City and daubing red paint onto the building and unfurling a banner proclaiming ‘co-liberation freedom together’ in front of a crowd of supporters. Nine people were later arrested.
Both the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police were on high alert for similar stunts on Monday with officers patrolling outside high-risk buildings like St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Stock Exchange.
XR organisers had asked supporters to gather at Trafalgar Square for 10am on Monday.
A large group – made up of three separate Samba bands – had met in St James’ Park, just behind Downing Street, an hour beforehand under the watchful gaze of the police.
They were given an escort to Trafalgar Square, holding up traffic for ten minutes and prompting irritated motorists to honk their car horns in frustration.
Two Metropolitan Police helicopters hovered overhead monitoring the crowd below.
After an hour in the square – where some of the 1,000 gathered listened to speeches on climate change -they began to march once more and again block the road.
Some had banners which read ‘Code Red for Humanity’ and ‘Rebel for Life’ while many others waved colourful flags bearing the XR hourglass symbol.
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook is branded a hypocrite after revealing she drives a DIESEL car instead of an electric vehicle
The founder of radical climate activist group Extinction Rebellion has admitted that she drives a diesel car.
Dr Gail Bradbrook, 49, who helped to set up the protest group in 2018, made the revelation in an angry interview with TalkRadio presenter Cristo Foufas on Monday.
After revealing that she drives a car, she admitted that she does not own an electric vehicle because she cannot afford one.
When pressed further by Foufas about what type of car it was, she admitted it is powered by diesel, which is considered by experts to be even more harmful to the environment than petrol.
She said that she needs the car to take her children to football and rugby fixtures because her home is not served by ‘buses that run on a Sunday.’
XR activist Jenn Parkhouse, 55, was part of a group who had travelled into London from Norwich.
She told MailOnline: ‘We now run out of time, there must be no more dilly dallying around.
‘The Government must now stop all fossil fuel investment – and that goes to the banks, particularly U.S banks who are massive offenders and have invested trillions of dollars into fossil fuels despite signing up to the 2015 Paris agreement.
‘The time for talking is over, we are on the precipice now. How can our Government continue to ignore report after reports that carbon emissions have reached pandemic proportions?
‘We need to act to halt this climate catastrophe, and we have take a similar approach to how we have coped with the COVID pandemic. This is a climate and eco crisis and we are in grave danger.’
Oliver Baines, 70, was one of 100 activists who had made the gruelling six-hour journey into London from Cornwall.
He said: ‘We have to end the extraction of fossil fuels, it’s a simple, clear message and we just do not have any more time to waste
‘There have been too many words, now is the time for action. We have activists here from all over the country. There will be actions in the city, that’s for sure.
‘The Guildhall was targeted because it’s a symbol of the City. The City has profited from slave trade, arms investment and of course from investing in fossil fuels and it now needs to step up and do the right thing and stop that investment now.’
Red paint can still be seen above the entrance to the Guildhall, although the area was quiet this morning.
Police scuffled with protesters outside the building yesterday at about 8pm and brought in a ladder to remove protesters who had climbed onto an alcove above the main entrance.
Of the nine arrests, three were on suspicion of criminal damage and a further five were arrested for conspiracy to cause criminal damage.
A further person was arrested for going equipped to cause criminal damage, The Met said.
The movement has gained support from celebrities such as comedian and author Stephen Fry and actor Jerome Flynn.
In a video shared on Twitter, Fry praised the group for attempting to ‘make politicians really recalibrate, realign, revolutionise politics’ through their ‘mucky’ and ‘disruptive’ demonstrations.
Flynn attended a protest on Sunday evening in which three activists scaled the entrance of the Guildhall building in central London.
A crowd of about 200 people gathered as the trio sprayed red spray paint over the walls of the building and unfurled a banner reading ‘co-liberation freedom together’.
The Game Of Thrones actor told the PA news agency it was ‘more urgent than ever’ for people to take a stand together.
‘We’ve gotten used to certain systems that are life destructive, we created them, we’ve become addicted to them and we know the world is burning as a result,’ he said.
Extinction Rebellion vowed to return to the streets earlier this month following a string of victories in court which saw activists successfully appeal convictions for previous stunts.
Their latest protest comes after a major science review by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that human activity such as burning fossil fuels was unequivocally driving the climate crisis, with impacts such as deadly heatwaves, floods and storms already being felt.
In November the UK will host the international Cop26 summit where the pressure will be on world leaders to increase action to urgently cut greenhouse gases and avoid even more dangerous global warming.