Extinction Rebellion: Eleven arrested after blocking Tower Bridge on seventh day of protests

Road has now been cleared and traffic is flowing once more, police said in a tweet

Sam Hancock
Monday 30 August 2021 15:17 BST
Extinction Rebellion protesters block Tower Bridge

Eleven climate activists were arrested as Extinction Rebellion (XR)’s two-week takeover of central London continued, which today saw members occupy Tower Bridge.

It follows the 34 people who were held over action taken at the Science Museum on Sunday, police said.

A van and caravan were used to obstruct the bridge on Monday, the Metropolitan Police force said earlier in a tweet, later adding that the road had been cleared and “traffic is flowing” once again.

“More [photos] of the challenges officers faced today,” the message read, alongside some images. “Removing these lock-on devices is not impossible, but it takes time. As you can see, our removal teams have the expertise to respond safely.”

Officers were pictured at the scene this afternoon “almost immediately”, and worked with the City of London Police to get traffic moving as fast as possible.

At around 6pm, the Met said in an update on Twitter that officers had started to warn demonstrators that if they continued to obstruct traffic at Tower Bridge, they could be arrested.

Shortly thereafter, the force reported that some demonstrators had moved to Blackfriars bridge, where they were blocking the junction with New Bridge Street. Officers were also on hand at the second bridge, working to clear the road “as quickly and safely as possible”.

In a video posted on social media, three XR protestors could be seen sitting on top of a caravan with a pink sign that said “love” alongside a graphic of a heart. A separate video showed members parking the caravan before police arrived and arrested three of them.

A spokesperson for the environmental movement said they planned to be there for “at least a couple of hours”.

“We’re here blocking Tower Bridge today to mark the start of a week long intervention on the City of London. The City is responsible for 15 per cent of emissions globally. It’s at the heart of the climate crisis as it funds and insures the fossil fuel industry,” they told The Independent moments after announcing the latest occupied site.

“Extinction Rebellion are demanding that the government ban all new investment in fossil fuels immediately. It’s not a radical ask - in fact the International Energy Agency have said this has to happen by the end of the year if the world is to meet its climate commitments. If the government aren’t even willing to take this first step and begin to stop making the crisis worse, how can people trust that they are serious about tackling the climate crisis?”

XR’s Twitter page described the action as a “tea party”, which it said was “off to a joyous start” and invited its followers to join.

Earlier on Bank Holiday Monday, the Met posted a video on Twitter showing officers intercepting XR protestors attempting to block another London road.

In the clip, officers run towards activists carrying a structure before tackling one man to the ground and arresting a woman.

“Why am I being cuffed?” she can be heard saying, to which an officer replies: “You’re under arrest.”

More than 30 arrests were made on Sunday after XR members gathered inside the capital’s Science Museum and started a procession, demanding oil company Shell stop sponsoring one of its exhibitions.

Meanwhile, zero arrests were made on Saturday and 33 took place on Friday; in total, 367 arrests have been made since XR’s Impossible Rebellion began on 23 August.

“The arrests were for a variety of offences,” the Met said on its website.

The protests have included the fountain outside Buckingham Palace being dyed red, a giant pink crisis-talks-table being erected at Covent Garden, and an attempted sleepover at McDonald’s.

XR’s immediate demand is for the government stop investing in fossil fuels, with all the action over the past week being geared towards driving that message home.

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