Extinction Rebellion protest: Activists bring parts of London to standstill and daub bank with paint

·10-min read
Extinction Rebellion protest: Activists bring parts of London to standstill and daub bank with paint

Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked roads in parts of London, as they gathered to demand action on the climate crisis.

The campaigners, staging a fifth day of protests that are due to last another week, target London’s financial institutions, starting with a ‘blood money’ march.

The “Impossible Rebellion” organisers called for a halt to all investment in fossil fuels, which emit damaging greenhouse gases when burnt.

Protesters in city suits daubed the famous Guildhall in the City of London in red paint, and splashed it on buildings including Standard Chartered bank and outside the London Stock Exchange.

Tonight, the group blocked Queen Victoria Street close to Bank Station with bamboo structures.

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Key Points

Paint daubed on bank

13:16 , Jane Dalton

Demonstrators have daubed the outside of Standard Chartered bank in the City of London with red paint and handprints.

There were chants of “Extinction Rebellion - the people united will never be defeated”.

 (Celine Wadhera)
(Celine Wadhera)

‘Blood money’ march against fossil fuel investment

13:59 , Jane Dalton

Extinction Rebellion supporters descended on the Bank of England in the City of London from midday, calling for an end to investment in fossil fuels.

In what they termed a “blood money” march, the crowds carrying banners saying “People before profit” walked through streets, stopping traffic, and daubed Guildhall in red paint.

The group said they had only just started to disrupt the City of London.

Police arrest two demonstrators

14:02 , Jane Dalton

Police arrested and led away two people in handcuffs.

“Go to hell, Shell,” said one man arrested. A woman was grabbed by police trying to open a bag of red ‘bloody’ water, writes reporter Celine Wadhera.

Guildhall gets fake blood

14:08 , Jane Dalton

Guildhall in the City was covered in fake blood (Celine Wadhera)
Guildhall in the City was covered in fake blood (Celine Wadhera)

UK banks ninth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, research finds

14:16 , Jane Dalton

A report earlier this year by Greenpeace UK and WWF claimed that UK banks and asset managers financed 805 million tonnes of damaging carbon dioxide in 2019, which would make the City of London the ninth-biggest emitter of CO2 in the world if it were a country – ranked higher than Germany.

The Independent’s James Moore has previously argued banks need to do more:

The City is urging climate action but its banks need to do more

Fake blood thrown at Capita HQ

14:29 , Jane Dalton

There was applause from XR supporters as fake blood was spilled on the pavement outside the offices of Capita in the City of London.

Police appeared to arrest one woman.

XR action ‘a modest response to death and destruction’

14:45 , Jane Dalton

A lobby group that works to “create a more just and equal world” has defended Extinction Rebellion’s direct action against financial institutions as “a legitimate non-violent political tactic”, calling it “a modest response to the death and destruction fuelled by the City”.

Daniel Willis, campaigns and policy manager at Global Justice Now, said: “It is heartening to see Extinction Rebellion highlight the role of the City of London in bankrolling climate chaos.

“Direct action is a legitimate nonviolent political tactic - and a modest response to the death and destruction fuelled by the City.

“Whether it’s financing fossil fuels, using trade rules to remove environmental protections, or demanding debt repayments that prevent the global south from investing in climate adaptation, these corporations and financial institutions are deeply embedded in the root cause of the climate crisis - our global economic system.”

Hundreds throng streets demanding action on fossil fuels

15:03 , Jane Dalton

Hundreds of supporters called for action to end support for fossil fuels (EPA)
Hundreds of supporters called for action to end support for fossil fuels (EPA)

Paris targets ‘slipping beyond reach'

15:35 , Jane Dalton

The reason the rebels are calling for action is the increasing urgency over tackling the climate crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a report earlier this month that the target for limiting global heating set out in the Paris Agreement - of limiting global warming to well below 2C - is slipping beyond reach.

According to its most comprehensive assessment yet, some of the effects of warming, such as global sea level rises, could be “irreversible for centuries to millennia”.

14 ways to fight climate crisis after ‘Code Red’ IPCC report warning

UK government complicit in Bolsonaro’s assault on Amazon, say MPs

16:26 , Jane Dalton

A cross-party group of MPs have accused the government of being complicit in Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s assault on the Amazon rainforest.

In a letter shared with The Independent, the politicians call on Mr Bolsonaro to urgently “abandon [his] assault on the Amazon, its people, and the future of our planet” amid escalating levels of deforestation and harassment of indigenous groups in Brazil.

Exclusive by Daisy Dunne:

UK government complicit in Bolsonaro’s assault on Amazon, 30 MPs warn

Smoke and banners over ‘blood money'

16:45 , Jane Dalton

Protesters let off orange smoke outside St Paul’s Cathedral near the City of London and erected banners claiming institutions were built with “blood money”.

City investments outstrip UK CO2 emissions by 80 per cent, they said.

Bankers ‘drawing short-term profit from long-term destruction'

17:33 , Jane Dalton

Writers Rebellion, a group of writers supporting Extinction Rebellion, accused bankers of “drawing short-term profit from long-term destruction”, saying the City was the “ultimate symbol of our exploitative extractive economy”.

Meanwhile, large numbers of supporters danced to music in the City.

‘Blood’ poured on stock exchange

17:55 , Jane Dalton

Fake blood was poured outside the London Stock Exchange, and activists danced peacefully in the red liquid.

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Traffic blocked as activists climb up large structure

18:18 , Jane Dalton

Protesters have blocked Canon Street outside Mansion House station, leaving traffic unable to cross the road junction.

Hundreds of people, some beating drums, others in fancy costume or waving flags, made their way there, monitored by large numbers of police officers.

They erected and climbed up a large bamboo structure.

Give the Queen a break and meet our demands, XR tells Cop26 head

18:45 , Jane Dalton

The Queen will attend the Cop26 climate talks in November, president of the talks Alok Sharma announced.

But in a sarcastic response, Extinction Rebellion asked Mr Sharma to “give her majesty a break”.

“Great idea!” they wrote. “We know unless you ban all new fossil fuel investments now #COP26 will be a right royal f***-up, so you may as well make it official. Or meet our demands now, and give her majesty a break.”

18:58 , Jane Dalton

There was some pushing and shoving between police and demonstrators, who staged a sit-in at Mansion House junction.

 (Celine Wadhera)
(Celine Wadhera)

Police warn protesters of arrests

19:14 , Jane Dalton

Police have started going through the crowd issuing warnings.

They are telling protesters they may start issuing a section 14 order - allowing officers to impose conditions if they think there will be serious public disorder or serious damage to property or activities.

People will be arrested once the order is given, police say.

More than 300 people arrested this week

19:30 , Jane Dalton

Police have arrested 305 Extinction Rebellion protesters this week, officers said.

XR said: “When the government calls an end to new fossil fuel investment, we’ll stop shutting down the capital.”

And the protesters say the system built on fossil fuels is killing the planet.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Tackle inequalities, says Black Lives campaigner

19:45 , Jane Dalton

Marvina Newton, founder of United for Black Lives, who led the speeches and the march, told The Independent: “We’re saying that we need to decolonise the economy.

“And the only way we can do that is by us telling the truth, and powerful organisations of how colonisation and capitalisation has affected marginalised and disadvantaged communities, mostly those from the global south.

“By working with our allies, we are united for black lives, and working with BLM green, we can come together to tackle these inequalities.”

‘Unacceptable’ to use paint on landmarks, says Met

19:55 , Jane Dalton

Police said they consider it “totally unacceptable” to use paint to deface London landmarks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “Like everyone else, Extinction Rebellion have the right to assemble and protest, however this is a qualified right, and they do not have the right to cause serious and unreasonable disruption to others.

“The unreasonable disruption caused by Extinction Rebellion, particularly as London continues to recover from the pandemic, is deeply frustrating, especially for communities who will see local officers pulled into central London in response.”

Thousands of extra officers will police weekend action

20:05 , Jane Dalton

Police say they are preparing to deploy thousands of extra officers in the capital over the bank holiday weekend to oversee further climate protests as well as other planned events.

The Met said they had been forced to request “a small number” of extra officers from neighbouring forces for support.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “As we head into the weekend, we are ready to respond to a number of different demonstrations by protest groups, including Extinction Rebellion.

“This past week, officers have worked hard to balance the rights of the protesters with those of the community. However, on many occasions demonstrators’ actions became unreasonable and they caused or tried to cause serious disruption to the public and businesses.

“Activists have frustrated the policing response by using complex lock-on devices which take time for officers to safely remove.”

London mayor slates ‘disruptive and unlawful’ protests

20:15 , Jane Dalton

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has warned the protests are diverting police resources from other parts of the city.

He said in a statement: “I share the passion of those who have taken to the streets to highlight the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis.

“Preventing and reducing violent crime should be the priority of the police. That is why we want to keep the police presence at any protests in central London to a minimum so that our frontline officers can focus on suppressing violence, tackling crime and keeping Londoners safe.”

He continued: “As well as the potential to divert police resources at a vital time, I’m concerned that ongoing disruptive and unlawful protests could hamper our city’s green recovery and, ultimately, risk turning public opinion against a vitally important campaign.

“I have always supported the democratic right to protest, and I urge anyone planning to protest this bank holiday weekend to co-operate fully with the police and to act peacefully, safely and lawfully at all times.”

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