Extinction Rebellion kicks off two weeks of climate protests across London

A man points in the face of a police officer as members of Extinction Rebellion stage a protest outside the Guildhall, London.
A man points in the face of a police officer as members of Extinction Rebellion stage a protest outside the Guildhall, London.
Aaron Chown
Carl Bennett

By Carl Bennett

Published: 23/08/2021

- 05:43

Updated: 23/08/2021

- 15:43

The Metropolitan Police said a 'significant' operation would be put in place but acknowledged the activists’ 'important cause'

Environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion has started another two full weeks of climate protests, taking place across London.

The group says thousands of people are expected to take part in their “Impossible Rebellion”, which plans to “target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis”.

Demonstrations began in Trafalgar Square and are scheduled in central locations including St James’ Park, Piccadilly Circus – similar to those carried out in 2019 – but more are due to take place in both north and south London.

Protesters blocked Trafalgar Square with a marching band, as well as Cockspur Road, with hundreds of protesters in the road next to Nelson’s Column as part of the fifth round of major protests that XR have organised.

The Metropolitan Police said a “significant” operation would be put in place to manage the protests over the busy bank holiday weekend, but acknowledged the activists’ “important cause”.

Extinction Rebellion says disruption will continue until the Government agrees to stop all new fossil fuel investment immediately.

The movement has gained support from celebrities such as comedian and author Stephen Fry and actor Jerome Flynn.

In a video shared on Twitter, Fry praised the group for attempting to “make politicians really recalibrate, realign, revolutionise politics” through their “mucky” and “disruptive” demonstrations.

Flynn attended a protest on Sunday evening in which three activists scaled the entrance of the Guildhall building in central London.

A crowd of around 200 people gathered as the trio sprayed red spray paint over the walls of the building and unfurled a banner reading “co-liberation freedom together”.

The Game Of Thrones actor said it was “more urgent than ever” for people to take a stand together.

“We’ve gotten used to certain systems that are life destructive, we created them, we’ve become addicted to them and we know the world is burning as a result,” he said.

“It feels needed and more poignant and more urgent than ever to come together.

“It’s time to collaborate, there are so many things that are trying to polarise us and pull us apart.”

XR protesters have also blocked a road in central London with a large pink structure with “Come to the Table” written on it.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the intersection of Long Acre and Upper St. Martin’s Lane with stewards directing activists to set up chairs to block the road.

Police deployed officers to the site and road closures were put in place.

The Metropolitan Police said a total of nine people had been arrested on Sunday in connection with the activities.

The force said three had been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and a further five were arrested for conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

A further person was arrested for going equipped to cause criminal damage and all are in police custody, the Met said.

On the upcoming protests, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “We’ve got a significant operation in place lead by an experienced command team to effectively provide a proportionate response to what is going to be a protracted demonstration over two weeks.

“We understand why this is such an important cause, no one is oblivious to that, what we don’t want is for people who are protesting to impact on the rights of others.

“We don’t want serious disruption caused to London – the August bank holiday is one of the busiest of the year and we know this will mean officers are extracted from their local boroughs and brought into the centre of London to deal with this protest.”

Extinction Rebellion vowed to return to the streets earlier this month following a string of victories in court, which saw activists successfully appeal convictions for previous stunts.

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