Extinction Rebellion London protests – live: Activists dance in the street as 40 arrests made on second day

·21-min read

Around 40 arrests have been made so far on the second day of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests in London, Met Police have said.

They follow 52 arrests made yesterday and 10 made on Sunday. One elderly woman, who lay in a Westminster road, was seen being carried off by four policemen and appeared to be arrested. XR protesters suggested this was for obstruction.

Meanwhile, XR activists have shared videos dancing in the street around London and Canterbury, dubbing the protest the “best club in London”.

Occupying Cambridge Circus in London’s West End, XR tweeted out that London’s, XR tweeted out telling protesters to “get your dancing feet” to the latest site takeover at London’s Theatreland. They later tweeted that “the ‘best club in London” is back - we’re at Shaftesbury Ave and Charing Cross Road with @djchristofu and the road is full of dancing rebels!”

Read More

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what are their aims?

‘Best club in London’: Extinction Rebellion closes streets as it launches latest mass protest

‘Policing bill makes us more determined,’ say Extinction Rebellion ahead of action targeting City of London

Key points

  • XR rebels occupy Cambridge Circus in central London...

  • ... as group claims ‘best club in London is back'

  • Police make ‘number of arrests’ on Parliament street

  • ‘I was worried about him but he’s fine,’ says wife of detained reverend

  • More than 10 protesters seen ‘carried away by police’

  • Does it really matter how ‘green’ XR activists are?

09:30 , Sam Hancock

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Extinction Rebellion protests currently going on around London.

Roads closed in Covent Garden after protesters chained themselves to pink table

09:33 , Sam Hancock

Metropolitan Police issued the following statement via Twitter this morning:

Police confirm 52 arrests made on Monday

09:37 , Sam Hancock

Meanwhile, on a page they say will be updated each day the protest takes place, Met Police officers said they had made the following arrests so far:

Sunday 22 August: 10 arrests;

Monday 23 August (as of 10.15pm): 52 arrests.

The arrests were for a variety of offences, the force added.

An XR protester, who installed himself on top of a van, is arrested at the group’s first day of protesting in Covent Garden (Getty)
An XR protester, who installed himself on top of a van, is arrested at the group’s first day of protesting in Covent Garden (Getty)

Recap: Police form barriers as XR launches latest mass protest

10:00 , Sam Hancock

In case you missed yesterday’s action, here’s a recap. Central London was taken over by hundreds of colour-adorned and drum-banging activists on Monday, as Extinction Rebellion kicked off its fifth mass protest in Trafalgar Square.

Those attending came from all corners of the UK – and the world – united by one demand: that the UK government immediately stop investing in fossil fuels.

Speaking to The Independent at the scene of the protest, former Olympian Laura Baldwin, who is now a spokesperson for XR, said the group was only doing what leaders were refusing to.

“The government seems paralysed from making the right decisions – or any decision at all – so this year we are inviting everybody to the table, to tell us what the crisis is for them, how it affects their community, and what we should do to tackle the crisis,” she said.

As roads closed and drummers marched between the two locations, dozens of Metropolitan and City of London Police officers swarmed to form six separate human barriers – each one to block a connecting road’s entrance to the intersection – and operated a strict no entry or re-entry policy.

Read our full report here:

‘Best club in London’: Extinction Rebellion launches latest mass protest in London

XR’s Tuesday schedule covers London Bridge and St James’ Park

10:08 , Sam Hancock

According to XR’s website, this is Tuesday’s Impossible Rebellion schedule:

10am St James’ Park: “Not In Our Name”, an XR Cymru action.

Those attending have been advised to meet near a cafe at the park’s Storey’s Gate.

11am London Bridge: “Make Pensions Green – Get Out Of Oil & Gas”, an XR Grandparents & Elders action.

Those attending have been advised to meet at Tooley Street.

4.30pm Cavendish Square Gardens: “Code Red For Fossil Fuel Fashion”.

Images from Day 1 of the ‘Impossible Rebellion’

10:36 , Sam Hancock

Protestors lock their arms into the giant pink table to stop police from removing it (Getty)
Protestors lock their arms into the giant pink table to stop police from removing it (Getty)
An XR protester, who installed himself on top of a van near Covent Garden, is arrested by police (Getty)
An XR protester, who installed himself on top of a van near Covent Garden, is arrested by police (Getty)
A man wearing a Boris Johnson face mask holds an anti-fossil fuel placard in Trafalgar Square (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
A man wearing a Boris Johnson face mask holds an anti-fossil fuel placard in Trafalgar Square (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
Protesters dressed in costumes gather beneath XR’s crisis-talks table (Getty)
Protesters dressed in costumes gather beneath XR’s crisis-talks table (Getty)
A climate activist from XR is searched by police officers before being arrested (AFP via Getty Images)
A climate activist from XR is searched by police officers before being arrested (AFP via Getty Images)
An XR high chair is pictured at the opening ceremony of the Impossible Rebellion (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
An XR high chair is pictured at the opening ceremony of the Impossible Rebellion (Sam Hancock/The Independent)
The crisis-talks table, which is still in position, created by XR to signify protestors coming together to join the conversation (Getty)
The crisis-talks table, which is still in position, created by XR to signify protestors coming together to join the conversation (Getty)

Opinion: ‘So what if XR are hypocrites – stop being petty, think big’

11:03 , Sam Hancock

Author Niko Vorobyov tells critics of Extinction Rebellion to stop distracting from the real issue: the climate crisis.

What with the floods in Germany and raging wildfires ripping through forests in Turkey, Greece and Siberia, now seems as good a time as any to think about what we’re doing to the planet.

Extinction Rebellion has taken to the streets again and no doubt we’ll be dismissed with the usual complaints. Why don’t we protest in China (as if we have any influence there)? We’re dancing too much. We’re clogging up traffic. And most of all, we’re HYPOCRITES. Why don’t we start fighting the climate crisis ourselves? How did we arrive here – did we drive? What about that holiday we took to Spain, eh? EH?

Hypocrisy is a distraction, and a lazy way to delegitimise the movement without addressing its actual concerns. It’s very difficult to live in the modern world without having some sort of negative impact on the environment. If you don’t own the house or pay the bills, how much say do you even have over where your energy comes from? Can you afford solar panels? What about the building you work in?

Read the full piece:

Opinion: So what if XR protesters are hypocrites – stop being petty and think big

Day two kicks off with protestors blocking roads around Westminster

11:16 , Sam Hancock

Police have warned that XR protesters are blocking roads around Parliament Street and Whitehall in Westminster.

“We have officers on scene,” Metropolitan Police said on Twitter, adding they were working to minimise the disruoption to traffic.

Police watch as workers dismantle XR’s giant pink crisis-talks table

11:51 , Sam Hancock

A giant pink table erected in the middle of a central London street by Extinction Rebellion protesters has been dismantled by police.

Segments of the four-metre structure were seen being carried off by men in hard hats and blue overalls on Tuesday as the activist group gathered in the capital for the second day of its planned 12-day mass protest.day.

A cordon had been put in place in the tourist hotspot of Covent Garden, blocking off parts of the Long Acre junction with Upper St Martin’s Lane.

Activists set up the large pink structure, which featured the words “come to the table”, on Monday and it contained built-in lock-ons where protesters could attach themselves to make their removal difficult for police. It also had sleeping quarters and a stereo system.

Some demonstrators were pictured standing on top waving pink-coloured flares on Monday.

Workers remove the table, which was blocking the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane, on Tuesday morning (PA)
Workers remove the table, which was blocking the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane, on Tuesday morning (PA)
Part of the table’s top, on which XR protesters sat yesterday, is carried off by workers, watched over by police (PA)
Part of the table’s top, on which XR protesters sat yesterday, is carried off by workers, watched over by police (PA)

XR protesters stage death demo on streets of Westminster

12:15 , Sam Hancock

Members of XR’s Cymru branch, who are currently leading today’s action, have begun a demonstration on the streets around Downing Street.

Dozens lay on roads, with white sheets draped over them, to resemble dead bodies.

Some causes of death listed were: famine, drought, flood, skin cancer, wildfire.

“All the things scientists and doctors have warned us are going to start happening more often as a result of climate change,” a woman, leading the group’s live feed, said.

Others began to join those laying on the floor, some without sheets, as police stood by.

Elsewhere, protesters dressed as cleaners began scrubbing the doors of HMRC to signal it being scrubbed clean of its connections to “dirty Barclays”. The bank has long been accused of funding billions of pounds worth of fossil fuels.

A few pictures from today’s XR protest

12:36 , Joe Middleton

A man wearing a petrol on top of a barrel joins climate activists from XR during a protest outside the offices of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (PA)
A man wearing a petrol on top of a barrel joins climate activists from XR during a protest outside the offices of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (PA)
Demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion lay on the floor in Whitehall, London (PA)
Demonstrators from Extinction Rebellion lay on the floor in Whitehall, London (PA)
Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion during a protest outside the offices of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (PA)
Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion during a protest outside the offices of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (PA)
A protester holding a drum stick reacts during the protest today (REUTERS)
A protester holding a drum stick reacts during the protest today (REUTERS)

12:45 , Joe Middleton

XR block roads outside HMRC

13:15 , Joe Middleton

Extinction Rebellion has shared a tweet claiming that the Welsh contingent of the climate activist group have blocked the road outside HMRC.

Pictures from the scene show a number of protesters congregating in that part of Whitehall on the second day of the group’s “Impossible Rebellion”.

The climate justice group are calling for HMRC to end their relationship with Barclays, who they accuse of financing fossil fuels.

‘We have no idea how long we’ll stay,’ says XR protestor glued to container

13:33 , Sam Hancock

Independent reporter Holly Bancroft is at the scene of the protest today and reports the following:

Reese, who was sat in the middle of Parliament street and glued to a container, told The Independent: “I’m not sure how long I’ve been locked on for, I think it was from 10:30 this morning. I’ve travelled from Wales.

“I’ve been involved in Extinction Rebellion for two years. I’ve been too afraid to have children because of the climate crisis.

“Me and my partner are just too afraid that our children will grow up and see more pandemics, more flooding, more fire, it’s just terrifying.

“We have no idea how long we will stay here for just as long as we can.

“We want the big banks to stop investing in fossil fuels.”

Protestors from Wales glue themselves to a container on Parliament street (Holly Bancroft/The Independent)
Protestors from Wales glue themselves to a container on Parliament street (Holly Bancroft/The Independent)

Police make ‘number of arrests’ on Parliament street

13:47 , Sam Hancock

Police try to move XR protesters from Westminster streets

14:01 , Sam Hancock

Independent reporter Holly Bancroft has this update from Westminster:

Police are currently trying to clear Parliament street. A police van played warnings to the protesters through loud speakers and officers started talking to Extinction Rebellion activists who are chained together on the ground.

The main body of protesters have moved away in a procession down the road, leaving the most dedicated environmentalists to face imminent arrest.

Police attempt to move XR protesters who’ve glued themselves to the ground (Holly Bancroft/The Independent)
Police attempt to move XR protesters who’ve glued themselves to the ground (Holly Bancroft/The Independent)

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14:29 , Sam Hancock

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Covent Garden’s Long Acre lane reopens for pedestrians

14:41 , Sam Hancock

The intersection at Covent Garden where Extinction Rebellion erected a giant pink table is open to pedestrians once more, police have announced.

Traffic will be moving very shortly, officers added in a tweet.

XR protester says ‘we must atone for our crimes against planet’

14:48 , Sam Hancock

Independent reporter Holly Bancroft reports the following from XR’s second day of protesting.

Oliver, from Cornwall, was leading a group of older activists in a march to Trafalgar Square.

Speaking about the protest, he said: “Penitence was a Medieval custom to atone for your crimes and we are atoning for the crimes of our society against the planet, and particularly the damage that fossil fuels have done to our planet.

“We carry those crimes.”

Upon arrival at the London landmark, where the protest began on Monday, the protestors sat in a line, holding boards adorned with what appeared to be all the regrets humankind will have if the climate emergency is ignored.

The placards had regrets such as ‘funding climate hell’ and ‘ignoring scientists’ (Holly Bancroft/The Independent)
The placards had regrets such as ‘funding climate hell’ and ‘ignoring scientists’ (Holly Bancroft/The Independent)

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what are their aims?

15:07 , Sam Hancock

Extinction Rebellion has begun a two-week protest in London aimed at disrupting ‘business as usual’ in the capital as the climate crisis unfolds.

The primary aim of the protest is to demand that the government “stop all new fossil fuel investment immediately”. XR also hopes to “build pressure on the biggest financial institutions” in London it says are fuelling climate change.

Actions are planned across the next fortnight at St James Park, London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, the Bank of England, outside the Brazilian Embassy and at other locations around the city.

But what actually is Extinction Rebellion and where did it come from? Joanna Taylor takes a closer look.

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what are their aims?

Roads reopen in Westminster

15:24 , Sam Hancock

Police have reopened Parliament Street to traffic.

Extinction Rebellion protesters who were locked-on have now been removed, Metropolitan Police said.

‘I was worried about him but he’s fine,’ says wife of detained reverend

15:30 , Sam Hancock

Independent reporter Holly Bancroft has this update from central London.

Andrea Hewes, wife of Reverend Tim Hewes who was arrested last night, told The Independent: “I came on the first day. My husband is Tim Hewes, he was one of the arrestees at the big pink table. He is now in a cell waiting to be released. He’s fine. I was really worried about him and concerned when I went home last night, but I came back today because I felt I had to. I spoke to him and he sounded good.

“He was expecting to be arrested and he has been arrested before. It will give him a chance to say what he needs to say in court. And juries are considering the proportionality of what activists are doing. The difference between their act of rebellion here and the scale of the climate crisis.

“They can realise why people do what they do. My husband is on remand for 12 hours and then he’ll be coming back home tonight.”

Speaking about the protest, she said:

“We are hopefully trying to create an atmosphere of non confrontation and of peace. I’m very happy to give out leaflets because a lot of people don’t know the full extent of climate change.

“I think Extinction Rebellion is just one of the best organisations because I think we are starting to see a crack in government and we hope that we can put pressure on them with Cop26 coming up. This is the last chance we’ve got.”

Does it really matter how ‘green’ XR activists are?

15:42 , Sam Hancock

Extinction Rebellion has kicked off its two-week-long programme of civil disobedience in London and, as a small number of roads in London are closed to traffic, the metaphorical knives are out among those for whom street protests are an unstomachable response to rapid global climate breakdown – despite the proof of their efficacy.

A favourite line of attack against the environmental movement is charging members with hypocrisy.

Right-wing blog Guido Fawkes is among the outlets highlighting that one of Extinction Rebellion’s co-founders, Dr Gail Bradbrook, drives a diesel vehicle. In a radio interview this week, Dr Bradbrook said she drives her sons to football and rugby practice where they live in Stroud.

But is Extinction Rebellion here to lecture people not to drive fossil fuel vehicles, take foreign holidays or police people’s individual choices, like eating meat, or buying clothes? No.

Our environment correspondent Harry Cockburn reports:

Does it really matter how ‘green’ XR activists are?

XR rebels take over another central location

15:47 , Sam Hancock

Dozens of protesters have gathered outside the Palace Theatre, on Cambridge Circus, in what the group is calling “another site take”.

A heavy police presence was pictured nearby as demonstrators appeared to lock-on to a giant structure built to look like planet Earth.

Onlookers can be seen in the background taking photos as police prepare to deal with further traffic disruption.

In a further tweet, XR confirmed the area had now been occupied.

Cambo oilfield work postponed after Greenpeace protest

15:58 , Sam Hancock

In news sure to be celebrated by XR protesters, preparation work for the controversial Cambo oil field project has been postponed after protests from other activists.

Greenpeace campaigners on Monday used kayaks to confront a ship in Norway preparing construction equipment for the fossil fuel production project, reports our climate correspondent Daisy Dunne.

A safety notice published earlier this month indicated that the ship was to bring the kit to the oil field site on 25 August – despite the project not yet receiving a development permit from the UK government.

Cambo oilfield work postponed until next year after activists stage protest

Police attempting to move protestors from Cambridge Circus

16:06 , Sam Hancock

More than 10 protesters seen ‘carried away by police’

16:16 , Sam Hancock

Reports of protesters being moved and arrested are slowly starting to appear now.

More than 10 demonstrators were seen being carried away by police after laying down on the road in central London, according to PA.

XR demonstrators that gathered outside the HMRC building were being led away by officers as the police tried to open up the road once again.

A team of officers was also seen trying to separate two men who were joined together with their arms inside what appeared to be a plastic pipe.

Another officer was using a circular saw to free two men who were joined via a wooden box structure.

XR protesters lock themselves into position outside HMRC earlier (Getty)
XR protesters lock themselves into position outside HMRC earlier (Getty)

‘Best club in London is back,’ says XR as rebels occupy central spot

16:24 , Sam Hancock

London’s “best club” is back, Extinction Rebellion has proclaimed, as protesters occupy Cambridge Circus in London’s West End.

Yesterday, when the first takeover was in full swing just streets away at St Martin’s Lane, police formed a human barrier and would not let people enter, or re-enter if they left.

“It’s like a club,” said one organiser at the time. “Well it’s the best club in London right now.”

The group is clearly sticking with that message as music plays again in London’s West End and the protest continues.

XR Norway activists occupy the Ministry of Climate and the Environment

16:49 , Ella Glover

Extinction Rebellion activists in Norway are occupying the Ministry of Climate and the Environment to protest the dumping of mining waste in Repparfjord.

They are supporting the Young Friends of the Earth Norway activist group who have been camping in tents to stop the construction process from starting.

XR rebels in Canterbury dance in the street

17:00 , Ella Glover

A video shows XR rebels protesting in Canterbury dancing in the street, matching the spirit of those dancing in London,

Police surround a van driven by XR protesters into

17:30 , Ella Glover

XR protesters have driven a van into the middle of a central London square in London’s Theatreland.

Multiple people have locked on to the van, which has a demonstrator on top of it holding a flag that says “Stop HS2”.

Around 40 officers have gathered around the van and a police team appears to be investigating the vehicle.

XR demonstrators are sat around the van as speakers continue to give talks about the climate crisis, including a small child who simply yelled “extinction!” while others chanted back “rebel”.

The crowd parted to let a London Fire Brigade engine through and cheered after it.

PA

Entertainment industry “underestimates interest in the climate crisis,” Greta Thunberg said

18:29 , Ella Glover

The entertainment industry is “underestimating interest in the climate crisis,” Greta Thunberg has said.

She said that there is a “lack of storytelling when it comes to the climate crisis”.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the Swedish climate activist said she knows “so many” individual artists, storytellers and journalists who want to create work about the environment.

However, she said they “don’t really have the support in order to do that”, adding there is “a big lack of storytelling when it comes to climate crisis, whether it is fictional or whether it is reflecting the reality as it looks today”.

Ms Thunberg added: “But I think if we would start writing about this, if we would start telling stories about this, I think there would be a demand for that.

She said the entertainment industry has “the resources to be able to reach countless people in a very short amount of time”.

PA

Hazelnut shells could be used as potential ‘renewable energy source’, research suggests

18:33 , Ella Glover

Hazelnuts are delicious, but can their shells be used to create renewable energy? According to researchers in China, the nuts’ shells could be a good biomass source for creating biofuels.

The new research focuses on how hazelnut shells respond to the process of pyrolysis – superheating them to between temperatures of 400 to 1,000C, and analysing what remains.

Exploring how different biomass sources respond to this kind of process could lead to new, highly efficient bio-oils which could be used in manufacturing processes such as the production of clean(er) fuels and/or chemicals.

Our environment correspondent Harry Cockburn has the full story:

Hazelnut shells could be used as potential ‘renewable energy source’

Total number of arrests now stands at 102

19:09 , Ella Glover

Around 40 arrests have been made as of 5:30pm today, the Met Police have said, putting the total number of arrests at 102.

Fifty-two arrests were made yesterday and a further 10 were made on Sunday.

The force said that the arrests were for “a variety of offences.”

The Met said a “significant” operation would be in place for the protests over the bank holiday weekend but also acknowledged the activists’ “important cause”.

Police attempt to move activists locked on to a sculpture of the earth

19:14 , Ella Glover

A video shared on the Extinction Rebellion Twitter account shows police talking to a group of three protesters who have stuck themselves to a sculpture of the earth.

Another picture shows officers breaking the sculpture in order to get them off.

Good night from The Independent

19:52 , Ella Glover

That’s it for today’s live coverage of the Extinction Rebellion Protests.

We’ll continue our coverage over the course of the protests which are expected to last into early September.

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