Extinction Rebellion: Climate change activists to target London's financial district for final 'swarming' protest

‘We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly,’ says group ahead of last day of action

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 24 April 2019 23:52
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Extinction Rebellion protesters perform 'die-in' at Natural History Museum

Climate change activists will gather for a blockade protest in London’s financial district on Thursday morning before bringing 10 days of action to an end.

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) group is planning several hours of disruption during rush hour by holding a “swarming” event to block roads in the Square Mile.

“There’s a public event which is what we are calling swarming, where at different locations in the City people will swarm into the roads and block the roads,” said a XR spokeswoman.

She said the area is being targeted because “the financial industry is responsible for funding climate and ecological destruction and we are calling on them, the companies and the institutions that allow this to happen, to tell the truth.”

The Metropolitan Police said 1,088 people had been arrested since the demonstrations began last Monday as part of the group’s campaign of non-violent civil disobedience.

As of Wednesday evening, Scotland Yard had charged 69 people in connection with the protests. Three others have been charged by British Transport Police and have appeared in court.

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion thanked Londoners for “opening their hearts” to the protests and explained the blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch would end on Thursday before a “closing ceremony” at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park at 5pm.

“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”

XR said 30,000 people had become members and £300,000 had been raised in crowdfunding since the protests began 10 days ago.

The group said to expect more actions “very soon”, but added: “It is now time to go back into our communities, whether in London, around the UK or internationally.”

Extinction Rebellion climate change activists perform a mass "die in" under the blue whale at the Natural History Museum

XR action has seen Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus blocked and a “die in” at the Natural History Museum.

Elsewhere, activists have glued themselves to trains, chained themselves to objects, and some could even be seen perching in hammocks up trees overlooking Parliament Square.

Members of XR have previously indicated temporarily ending disruptive tactics to focus on political negotiations.

Elliott Cuciurean, 20, believed to be the first climate activist successfully prosecuted over the fresh wave of XR protests, was spared a fine at a court hearing on Tuesday.

Police arrests climate protestors at Oxford Circus

On Wednesday a senior Scotland Yard office said police need new powers to deal with protests such as those taking place around climate change and Brexit.

Giving evidence to the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Commander Adrian Usher, head of the Metropolitan Police’s protection command, said it should not be enough for a protest to be “peaceful” to be considered lawful.

“We need to move away from the language of talking about peaceful protest to talk about lawful protest,” he said. “A protest being peaceful is only one of the attributes that the police would say are a sign to a protest that make it lawful.”

Mr Usher said the police would conduct a review of the tactics used to deal with recent protests – including the XR demonstrations – and he expected it would recommend legal change was needed.

Additional reporting by PA

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