Extinction Rebellion climate change activists defy police ban on London protests
Extinction Rebellion activists have defied a police ban on protesting in London just hours after it was introduced.
On Tuesday morning, the group's co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, was filmed climbing the entrance to the Department for Transport in Westminster.
Extinction Rebellion (XR), which has previously said it is acceptable to scare people about climate change, said other protesters had glued themselves to the building.
It followed a move by police on Monday night to crack down on the capital-wide protests. Scotland Yard ordered activists to stand down or face arrest.
Officers cleared protesters from Trafalgar Square, where many had congregated peacefully since last Monday.
XR said activists were calling on the government to explain its plan to meet a net-zero emissions target within the carbon budget of the UK.
The Metropolitan Police imposed conditions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, requiring any protest assembly in the capital to cease by 9pm on Monday. The force said this was to "prevent serious disruption to the life of the community".
In response to the police action, an Extinction Rebellion statement said its "rebels" would take "a moment to pause and remember why we are here".
It added: "Extinction Rebellion will let the Trafalgar Square site go tonight. The International Rebellion continues."
The group called the police move “an outrage”.
The move follows more than a week of disruption in London and XR activists were ordered to leave Trafalgar Square, where many have congregated lawfully since last Monday.
Last week, a blind Paralympian helped bring London City Airport to a standstill after he climbed on top of a British Airways plane.
Another protester at the same airport stopped an Aer Lingus flight from taking off by refusing to sit in his seat.
More than 1,400 people have been arrested during eight days of XR action, with the threat that anyone defying police orders will also be detained.
In a statement on Twitter on Monday, the London branch of XR wrote: "Police are clearing peaceful protest in Trafalgar & Vauxhall. They are back-tracking on promises made &, MEPs say, in contravention of UK law, in the national square.
"This is an emergency, and an outrage. The police must respect the law. This is a democracy."
Scotland Yard said activists were told to cease their protests by 9pm on Monday or face arrest.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: "These conditions have been imposed due to the continued breaches of the section 14 condition previously implemented, and ongoing serious disruption to the community.
Police are clearing peaceful protest in Trafalgar & Vauxhall. They are back-tracking on promises made &, MEPs say, in contravention of UK law, in the national square.
This is an emergency, and an outrage. The police must respect the law. This is a democracy#ExtinctionRebellion pic.twitter.com/vJf7cTLJ78
— Extinction Rebellion London (@XRLondon) October 14, 2019
"We have made significant progress in managing Extinction Rebellion's activity at sites across central London over this past week.
"Officers have begun the process of clearing Trafalgar Square and getting things back to normal.
"Today, protesters targeted areas in the City of London, causing further disruption to people and businesses in London's financial district. Police made more than 90 arrests.
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"Since the beginning of this operation officers have been working hard to keep London moving. There have been more than 1,400 arrests, and a number of people have been charged.
"The policing operation continues, and we will continue to take action against anyone engaged in unlawful protests at locations targeted by Extinction Rebellion."
Four people in a so-called peace tent, who had locked themselves together, were cut out of their locks with machinery.
Pam Williams, 71, glued herself to the spot where her tent stood as police arrived to take it.
She said: "Everyone on the site, despite being the only area of London that was free of the Section 14, was told at about 8.30pm that they had to leave by 9pm or they would be arrested. I just feel like that's very short notice.
"I feel possibly that they've been approached by people we've upset today, maybe the finance sector or the banking sector.
"I'm refusing to leave and I've glued myself to the ground. My husband has taken away the tent, the police haven't got it. I shall stay here until I'm arrested."
‘Rules have changed’
Patrick Thelwell, 20, who has been arrested four times, and convicted once with Extinction Rebellion, said the police were getting "desperate".
"They're running out of police cells and resources to keep our message oppressed," he said.
"We're not here against the police, they're just doing their job, they're being really helpful… making sure people's stuff doesn't get lost."
Ellie Chowns, a Green Party MEP, said she was arrested after "standing in solidarity" with protesters in Trafalgar Square.
She said: "We were given notice just a short time ago that this square is no longer allowable for peaceful democratic protest.
"The rules have been changed. No longer is any space in London allowable for peaceful democratic protest. This is intolerable. There has been no justification given. The protesters have been peaceful.
"There is no justification for this curtailment of the democratic right to protest for the future of our children."
‘Bigger than all of us’
Police said they imposed the condition to clear Trafalgar Square under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.
At 11.30pm on Monday only around 50 protesters remained in Trafalgar Square and the majority of the activists' infrastructure had been removed.
XR said in a statement early on Tuesday the police action had given them a "moment to pause and remember why we are".
It added: "Climate and Ecological Emergency isn't going away and we remain resolute in facing it. We urge the government and the authorities to join us in doing the same. We cannot do it alone. This is bigger than all of us."