Police arrest dozens of people during Extinction Rebellion protests in central London

Watch: Extinction Rebellion start two week climate protests in London

Police arrested dozens people during the first 24 hours of Extinction Rebellion protests in central London.

Demonstrators blocked roads in central London, including around Trafalgar Square, as they demanded the UK Government immediately end investment in fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

On Monday evening officers were continuing to remove demonstrators from under vehicles in Garrick Street.

Scotland Yard said a “significant” operation would be put in place to manage the protests over the busy bank holiday weekend, but acknowledged the activists’ “important cause”.

It later confirmed that as of 10.15pm on Monday some 52 arrests had been made for a “variety” of offences. The force added that 10 arrests were made on Sunday.

The group has planned two weeks of action in the capital.

In a statement ahead of the protests Extinction Rebellion - which has gained support of celebrities including comedian Stephen Fry and actor Jerome Flynn - said they would “target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis – the political economy”.

On Monday morning, activists set up a large pink structure at the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane with the words “come to the table” written across it to highlight the right everyone has to have a say in how to tackle the crisis.

The giant “table” contains built-in lock-ons so protesters can attach themselves, sleeping quarters and its own stereo system as activists are preparing to stay and occupy the site.

A heavy police presence surrounded all of the “Impossible Rebellion” protests.

Police officers detain a demonstrator in Garrick Street (PA)
Police officers detain a demonstrator in Garrick Street (PA)

Demonstrations are scheduled in central locations including St James’ Park and Piccadilly Circus all week.

They are similar to those carried out in 2019 – but more are due to take place in both north, west and south London.

Gail Bradbrook, Extinction Rebellion co-founder, said: “Our leaders in Government and Business have been failing us for years, they are taking us over a cliff.

“If they are in any way serious about tackling this existential crisis then they would immediately stop financing fossil fuels, because continuing to pour petrol on a fire is an obvious sign of insanity.

“Why don’t they act? They are wedded to a corrupt political economy, centred in the City of London, that extracts vast profits from communities and nature, and depends on destructive economic growth for its survival.

“We need to tell the truth, humanity has to change course, we have no choice.”

Police officers surrounded the demonstrations (PA)
Police officers surrounded the demonstrations (PA)

As protests got under way, 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.

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”.

Watch: XR's fortnight of climate protests under way

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