Extinction Rebellion activists to target London’s financial area

By Press Association Reporters

Climate change activists plan to cause rush hour disruption in London’s financial district before they bring an end to days of protests in the centre of the city.

Demonstrators said they will swarm into the Square Mile to cause roadblocks, targeting big business and banking.

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) group said its action in the City of London on Thursday is likely to last a few hours, and comes on the day it is due to end blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “There’s a public event which is what we are calling swarming, where at different locations in the City people will swarm into the roads and block the roads.”

She said the area is being targeted because “the financial industry is responsible for funding climate and ecological destruction and we are calling on them, the companies and the institutions that allow this to happen, to tell the truth.”

She added: “And we’re asking the Government to take action to address the climate emergency.”

Eco-protesters have been urging the Government to declare a climate emergency to avoid what it calls the “sixth mass extinction” of species on Earth.

A small group of Extinction Rebellion protesters in Parliament Square in Westminster (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In a statement announcing the end of their action XR said: “We would like to thank Londoners for opening their hearts and demonstrating their willingness to act on that truth.

“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.

“Around the planet, a long-awaited and much-needed conversation has begun.

“People have taken to the streets and raised the alarm in more than 80 cities in 33 countries.

“People are talking about the climate and ecological emergency in ways that we never imagined.”

Extinction Rebellion protesters outside Parliament in Westminster (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The group added: “It is now time to go back into our communities, whether in London, around the UK or internationally.”

XR also said to expect more actions “very soon”, adding that there will be a “closing ceremony” at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park on Thursday at 5pm.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested during XR protests which started on April 15, while more than 10,000 police officers have been deployed.

Extinction Rebellion protesters lying down inside the Natural History Museum in London (Mason Boycott-Owen/PA)

As of Wednesday evening, Scotland Yard had charged 69 people in connection with the protests.

They were charged with offences including breach of Section 14 Notice of the Public Order Act 1986, obstructing a highway and obstructing police.

Three others have been charged by British Transport Police and have appeared in court.

As of 4pm on Wednesday, a further 23 arrests were made, bringing the total arrest figure to 1,088, Scotland Yard said.

Police said 22 arrests were made in Marble Arch on suspicion of breaching a Section 14 Notice of the Public Order Act 1986, and one further arrest was made in Parliament Square on suspicion of possession of a bladed article.

Of those arrested, 12 are women and 11 are men and they are aged between 19 and 70.

Elliott Cuciurean, 20, believed to be the first climate activist successfully prosecuted over the fresh wave of XR protests, was spared a fine at a court hearing on Tuesday.

Police remove Extinction Rebellion demonstrators from Waterloo Bridge in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

XR action has seen Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus blocked and a “die in” at the Natural History Museum.

Elsewhere, activists have glued themselves to trains, chained themselves to objects, and some could even be seen perching in hammocks up trees overlooking Parliament Square.

Members of XR have previously indicated temporarily ending disruptive tactics to focus on political negotiations.

Police said conditions imposed in the Marble Arch area have been extended for a further three days, meaning that people who wish to continue protesting must assemble in a specific area.