More than 750 climate activists arrested in six days, say UK police

Extinction Rebellion protesters occupy London landmarks to call for climate action

Protesters and police during  Extinction Rebellion climate change protests on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Protesters and police during Extinction Rebellion climate change protests on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

 

More than 750 climate change activists blocking roads at some of London’s most famous landmarks have been arrested over the last six days, police said on Saturday, up from a Friday total of 682.

The protests, organised by climate group Extinction Rebellion – also known as XR – have for several days disrupted travel through parts of central London, including at Marble Arch and Waterloo Bridge.

The activists had also blocked the Oxford Circus shopping district, but by 5pm the roads had mostly been cleared by police and traffic was flowing again.

Climate change activists blocking Waterloo Bridge in London on the sixth day of protests by Extinction Rebellion. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images
Climate change activists blocking Waterloo Bridge in London on the sixth day of protests by Extinction Rebellion. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

XR has called for non-violent civil disobedience to force the British government to reduce net greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2025 and stop what it calls a global climate crisis.

The group tweeted: “We face a climate and ecological emergency. Now is not the time to be on the wrong side of history”.

The group has also pledged to continue causing disruption until its demands are met.

Twenty-eight of those arrested had been charged with offences, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Climate change activists practise yoga on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters
Climate change activists practise yoga on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick told BBC News that the protests had caused “miserable disruption”. She said there were now 1,500 police officers, up from 1,000 previously, working to clear the roads.

Extra police officers were drafted in at some of the main sites in London where the protesters were blocking traffic.

Protesters also said that some of those detained had been sent as far away as Brighton and Southampton as the Met runs out of police cells in the capital.

Despite the large police presence, the protests have remained peaceful, with demonstrators chanting “we love you” as officers advanced and surrounded a truck that had been acting as a stage on Waterloo Bridge.

A police officer removes haystacks during the Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters
A police officer removes haystacks during the Extinction Rebellion protest on Waterloo Bridge in London. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

Police had been trying to confine the protests to one site at Marble Arch, but the protesters ignored the threat of arrest and continued to block other sites, including Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square.

“I’ve got one message for the protesters and that is: Please, go to Marble Arch where you can protest lawfully. Stop your unlawful protest, and if you don’t want to go to Marble Arch, then go home,” Ms Dick said.

On Friday, well-known actor Emma Thompson joined activists at Oxford Circus to read poetry praising Earth’s bounties. – Reuters, PA