Extinction Rebellion: Police accused of 'brutal' treatment of activists after officers filmed dragging protesters

'This aggression from the police ... is inexcusable,' activists say

Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 20 April 2019 00:08 BST
Police officers drag Extinction Rebellion protesters by their wrists
Police officers drag Extinction Rebellion protesters by their wrists (Twitter)

Officers from London's Metropolitan Police have been accused of "brutal" treatment against climate change activists from the Extinction Rebellion group.

Footage shared on social media on Friday showed officers at Oxford Circus dragging two protesters across tarmac.

At one point, the officer dragging the female activist pulls her so quickly he loses balance and topples next to her.

As another policeman comes to assist, another officer dragging a male protester in a red t-shirt can be seen lifting him up by his belt.

"Brutal dragging of protesters by the police earlier at #ExtinctionRebellion ldn," one Twitter user said, alongside a video of the incident. It was not immediately clear when the footage was taken.

The tactic of one officer per protester appears to contradict the force's own guidelines.

In a statement earlier this week it said it took at least four officers "to remove one person from a site to ensure their safety".

"We have always been, are and will always be non-violent," XR tweeted in response to the footage. "This aggression from the police against our peaceful Rebels in London is inexcusable. Shame on them, do they not know that we are rebelling for their families and loved ones also."

In response to the video, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told The Independent: "Protesters have been told to leave Oxford Street and go to Marble Arch. Some demonstrators have decided not to go to Marble Arch and obstructed officers in the course of their duties. The response by officers has been proportionate in order to facilitate their removal."

The incident came amid a concerted effort by police to clear the capital's busiest shopping street of protesters, who have blocked the junction with Regent Street using a pink model boat which acted as a stage since Monday.

But Oxford Street remained blocked by activists on Friday night, alongside sites at Marble Arch, Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge.

Almost 600 people have been arrested since the demonstrations begun, including three who have been denied bail after gluing themselves to a train at Canary Wharf.

In the face of climate breakdown – scientists have warned we have 12 years to stop catastrophic global warming – XR has three demands.

It is demanding the UK government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and create a so-called citizens’ assembly made up of members of the public, which would lead decision-making in the fight against climate and ecological breakdown

XR said there were set to be protests in at least 80 cities in more than 33 countries.

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