Extinction Rebellion: More than 500 arrested during protests in London

Two weeks of action in capital culiminated in ‘march for nature’ on Saturday

Celine Wadhera
Saturday 04 September 2021 23:49 BST
Extinction Rebellion protesters block Tower Bridge

More than 500 arrests have been made during Extinction Rebellion’s two weeks of protests in London.

Scotland Yard said 508 people had been arrested since the environmental group began its Impossible Rebellion protests on 23 August.

Saturday’s “March for Nature” marked the final event in the group’s fortnight of protests in the capital. The march was staged by sister groups Animal Rebellion and Nature Rebellion and sought to “bring the voices of the forests to the streets,” according to Animal Rebellion’s Facebook page.

Extinction Rebellion UK’s event website for the march drew attention to rising extinction rates and habitat loss, before calling for world leaders to cease all fossil fuel investment.

“A species goes extinct every 5 minutes. We have lost almost 70 per cent of all plant and animal life on this planet in just 50 years,” the website said.

“Our feet march for the disappearing forests, coral reefs, prairies, marshlands, mangroves and beyond. Our eyes see the fires, floods, drought and destruction.

“Our hands rise and point to world leaders to stop this harm.

“Our demand is to stop all fossil fuel investment immediately.”

The demonstration began at Trafalgar Square around 1pm with speeches about decolonising conservation, and oil drilling in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, before thousands of protesters began their march, journeying past Buckingham Palace and ending in Hyde Park.

Protesters were photographed wearing colourful costumes, holding signs and banners that read “Stop the Harm,” “Act Now” and “The Amazon Rainforest is at a Tipping Point”. Others dressed as animals, including bees and panda bears, and a giant pink octopus was wheeled through the streets of London by Marine Extinction group.

More than 100 police officers were stationed around Trafalgar Square, and many more were waiting for the protesters along the planned march route. Ten people were arrested throughout the course of the demonstration “for a variety of offences,” the Met Police said.

On Friday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that nearly 2,000 officers were involved in policing the Impossible Rebellion protests every day.

Speaking on Times Radio he said: “It’s not the number of protesters but it’s the level of serious disruption that they’re looking to cause, which is impacting on other Londoners.

“We’ve said right from the start, we know that Extinction Rebellion have the right to protest and the right to assemble.

“But what we also made clear is these are qualified rights and they have got to be balanced against the rights of the rest of London and Londoners, the people, the businesses, the communities who want to lawfully go about their business.

“Where we’ve seen cases of both very serious and totally unreasonable disruption looking to be caused, we have to take action and move in and make arrests.”

The two weeks of protests have seen protesters glue themselves to a McDonald’s restaurant, a giant pink table erected in Oxford Circus, banks splattered in paint, and countless roads and bridges blocked throughout London. While the Impossible Rebellion has ended, Extinction Rebellion UK has vowed to “continue to disobey” until the government commits to urgent action to fight global warming.

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