Extinction Rebellion blocks London bridges on second day of mass protest
Extinction Rebellion climate activists staged sit-down protests in central London for a second day, with dozens arrested after they blocked two bridges to demand an end to the fossil fuel economy.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park on Sunday morning before marching into the city centre and “occupying” both Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, major traffic arteries across the Thames where they prevented vehicles from crossing.
However, they allowed ambulances and fire engines to pass, with organisers parting the crowd by shouting “blue light”.
Crowds sat in the middle of the road, waving multicoloured flags bearing the group’s “extinction” symbol and placards that read “there is no planet B” and “we want to live”, and listened to music and speakers in sunny weather.
After several hours, police cleared first Lambeth and then Vauxhall Bridge, saying 38 arrests were made in the process.
Officers told protesters there was evidence they were causing “serious disruption” to the public, warning them to leave or face arrest.
Police physically removed the last of the activists, a number of whom were taken away in police vans.
The Metropolitan Police tweeted on Sunday evening: “Both demonstrations within the Vauxhall Area have now concluded and the roads have reopened.
“As a result of today’s policing operation we have made 38 arrests.”
Doctors and nurses from a small group of medical workers who refused to leave Lambeth Bridge were among those arrested, Extinction Rebellion tweeted.
The Met said it had imposed conditions under section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 on Extinction Rebellion to clear areas around Vauxhall Bridge.
Activist and student Kiri Ley, 21, from Birmingham, said the group was occupying the capital peacefully in order to try and force the Government to make change when nothing else had worked.
She told the PA news agency: “I know that very often people will question our tactics about disruption for example, to ordinary people, stuff like roadblocks, like gluing on, locking on, and so on.
“What I would ask people, if you make that criticism, is what actually do you suggest that we do?
“We tried all the other methods – we’ve written letters, we’ve marched, we’ve spoken to our MPs, we’ve done literally everything we can and time and time again we see them doing completely the opposite of what the scientific evidence says and this is what is left to us, really, we do it because we know it works.”
Adam, in his 60s, from York, said: “This may seem disruptive, but it is chicken feed in comparison to climate change.”
Former Love Island contestant Amy Hart tweeted a photograph of herself with protesters while on her way to the Olivier Awards, with the caption: “Extinction Rebellion have closed Lambeth Bridge so we’re literally doing the Lambeth walk oi x”.
Earlier, campaigners spray painted red hands outside the London corporate offices of oilfield services company Schlumberger.
It came a day after some 8,000 protesters flooded the streets of London, according to Extinction Rebellion.
On the first day of mass action on Saturday, they blockaded roads around Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square.
Extinction Rebellion has vowed to “block areas of the city for as long as possible” every day for at least a week, and on the next three weekends.
The environmental activist group plans to recruit new “rebels” and hold training in non-violent action and resistance tactics in Hyde Park in the mornings before marching into the city centre “en masse”, it said on its website.
“Our disruption will not stop until the fossil fuel economy comes to an end,” it said.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that some Extinction Rebellion protests are counterproductive, but their disruptive actions are the “only way that people feel they can make their voices heard”.
She told Sunday Morning on BBC One: “I think that being on the streets of London has been shown to be a way of capturing people’s imaginations. People have joined those protests who have never protested before. They are doing it because they know we have to leave new fossil fuels in the ground.
“The International Energy Agency says that, the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report says that and yet this Government and this energy strategy .. is foreseeing getting out even more oil and gas from the North Sea, that is frankly immoral and said the UN general secretary said that is frankly both morally and economically mad.”
On Friday, two Extinction Rebellion protesters shut down Tower Bridge during the morning rush hour by abseiling off the sides of the landmark.
Activists from the group, also known as XR, and Just Stop Oil have also been blocking access to oil terminals for ten days, demanding that the Government stops new oil and gas projects.
They disrupted supplies from three oil terminals in Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Essex on Sunday, Just Stop Oil said.
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