Extinction Rebellion: ‘I’ve blocked roads around Parliament – and the new anti-protest law won’t stop me’

An Extinction Rebellion activist who has been arrested five times has pledged to defy the government’s new policing bill.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently going through Parliament, would give the Met police and other forces new powers to limit protests and public assembly.

Police forces would be allowed to ban protests they believe are a “public nuisance” and which breach noise limits.

Amelia Halls, 23, works with Extinction Rebellion London and has been arrested five times in the capital. She told MyLondon the policing bill was a “shift towards authoritarianism”

“It creates a piece of legislation that is trying to take away the right to peaceful protest unless Priti Patel says it’s OK,” she claimed.

READ MORE: Insulate Britain cost Met Police a staggering £2 million in just four weeks

A giant boat blocking Parliament in 2020 – with Amelia Halls on top

“These are essential parts to protests – locking on to things, blocking roads. The Suffragettes were doing that, and making noise.”

In September 2020, she blocked Parliament in a giant pink boat made by Extinction Rebellion.

Ministers plan to introduce a 51 week sentence for actions like this which “obstruct the highway,” under the new law.

On Monday night, peers in the House of Laws voted to exclude Parliament Square from the new rule, for fears it could further criminalise peaceful protest outside the “Mother of all Parliaments.”

But ministers could try and put it back in the bill.

The Lords voted to block the ban on “locking on”, a change that ministers will not be able to easily reverse.

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Asked if the new policing bill will limit Extinction Rebellion’s protests, Ms Halls said: “No – we need to carry on protesting because we have to. The climate emergency isn’t going away.

“These limits aren’t going to stop us – we’ll just face more legal consequences. More people will be arrested.

“I am absolutely prepared to break the law. None of us want to go to prison, but that’s not going to stop us doing what I do. And I don’t think it will stop other people involved in XR.”

She pledged another year of protest for Extinction Rebellion: “There’s lots coming up. Climate tipping points are being breached. We’re running out of time. So we can’t wait and see what the government does with the legislation.”

However, the Cambridge-based MA student did admit she was “scared” of going to prison: “I don’t want to. If the police and courts conform to this bill, it’s possible I’ll face prison sentences. But there’s a lot of ifs around sentencing, and I won’t let it stop me.”

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For Ms Hall – and other XR protesters – the point of protest is to disagree “passionately and loudly”.

She was first arrested in October 2019 for attempting to shut down London City Airport over climate change.

The XR London activist won her appeal against her sentence because it was deemed a “proportionate” action given the scale of the climate crisis.

But Home Secretary Priti Patel says the policing bill “will stop Insulate Britain and XR bringing the country to a standstill.”

Today she hit out at Labour for backing amendments to the bill, accusing Keir Starmer’s party of “choosing to defend vandals and thugs.”

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is nearing its final stages in the House of Commons this month.

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