Extinction Rebellion protests: Activist ‘attacked by mob on Tube’ as demonstrators block train in east London

Man broadcasting on group’s official Facebook page repeatedly claims to be journalist

Jon Sharman
Thursday 17 October 2019 14:26 BST
Angry commuters in London attack Extinction Rebellion protester claiming to be journalist

An Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist captured on video the moment an angry mob of commuters turned on him as protesters stopped Tube trains in east London.

The young man was filming at Canning Town station where climate change demonstrators clambered on top of a Tube train and prevented it from leaving.

His footage was broadcast live on Extinction Rebellion’s Facebook page – but when confronted by furious workers unable to travel, the man claimed he was a journalist.

Before apparently dropping his phone and being set upon, the man filming told passengers: “I’m not part of this action, I’m here to film this action, guys, I am filming the action. I film what happens at all protests, sir. I am a media representative. I am media, it is a free [inaudible] ...”

A scuffle is seen to break out between him and the mob, before footage resumes. “It’s freedom of speech, I’m a journalist,” the man insists.

“Right guys, I’ve just been attacked by a mob on the Tube. We’re trying to report the news here, and thousands of people watching have just witnessed the assault,” he tells the camera.

Earlier in his Facebook Live broadcast, he had identified himself as an XR member.

More than one-third of Britons strongly oppose the latest XR protests

He said: “Extinction Rebellion are calling on the government to commit to becoming carbon-neutral by 2025, and to enact a citizens’ assembly giving all the citizens a voice and power in government.

“This action is not targeted to disrupt people on the Tube, this action is targeted at government. The activists here are expressing their rage, their frustration.

“We do not enjoy disrupting passengers on the Tube, but there is no option here.”

XR has been contacted for comment and an interview with the activist who filmed the Canning Town protest.

So-called “affinity groups” are allowed to conduct autonomous protests using XR branding. The organisation says it has a “decentralised” structure.

But The Independent has learned that in an internal poll of XR activists, a huge majority opposed action to disrupt the London Underground.

Nearly three-quarters – or 72 per cent – of more than 3,800 respondents said they believed the plan was a “bad idea no matter how it’s done”, while a further 14 per cent were “opposed if people might be blocked underground”.

The figures were revealed in a poll on the encrypted Telegram messaging app.

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A press release on XR’s website said: “This morning a number of Extinction Rebellion UK affinity groups are peacefully disrupting the London Underground because there is an emergency. The climate and ecological emergency.

“Activists are glued onto trains in order to prevent them from running and plan on nonviolently breaking the law, then waiting to be removed and arrested by the British Transport Police."

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