Extinction Rebellion Announces End To Protests But Leaves 'Space For Truth-Telling'

Chris York

Extinction Rebellion has announced it will formally end its protests in Marble Arch and Parliament Square on Thursday.

The climate change protesters have brought parts of London to a standstill for the last nine days but will voluntarily end its remaining blockades, the group announced in a statement.

The group said that although the physical protests would end, “a space for truth-telling has been opened up in the world”.

It added: “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.”

On Tuesday and before the announcement was made, Extinction Rebellion (XR) members assembled in Parliament Square at around noon, continuing the second week of disruptive demonstrations as politicians returned to work after the Easter recess.

The Extinction Rebellion camp at Marble Arch in central London.

As the crowd chanted, heard speeches and wrote letters to MPs, influential 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg was meeting Westminster party leaders in the Commons just yards away.

The protests have had the desired effect as Environment Secretary Michael Gove admitted “we have not done nearly enough” on man-made climate change.

But police were cracking down on the protesters having already removed an iconic pink boat on Friday that had been blocking Oxford Circus.

Police also moved to limit the scale of the protest around Marble Arch on Tuesday with conditions imposed aimed towards reopening the surrounding roads, the Press Association reports. 

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.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “This number of arrests is unprecedented, and is diverting officers from their vital duty of tackling crime and keeping London safe.

“But they will continue to arrest those who occupy illegal protest sites and refuse to stop causing widespread disruption to the communities of London.”

Meanwhile, several people accused of public order offences linked to the protests are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

On Easter Monday, at least 100 protesters laid down under the blue whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum in a stunt organisers called a “die in”.

Some protesters, wearing red face paint, veils and robes, remained to give a performance to classical music on the steps beneath the skeleton.