Hundreds Arrested as Momentum Builds Around Latest Extinction Rebellion Protest
Extinction Rebellion activists of all ages are continuing to press for action on climate during a planned two-week-long protest in several major European cities.
In 48 hours, the London metropolitan police arrested more than 500 protesters advocating for climate reform through protests and the occupation of central city landmarks.
The Extinction Rebellion, abbreviated XR, congregated and centralized around Trafalgar Square by the end of Tuesday, the second day of protests which are planned to spam a two week period.
The XR is a climate activist organization with non-violent, disruptive tactics. They’ve occupied spaces in London twice in the past year, with the last large-scale protests occurring in April. Through civil disobedience, the activists hope to bring attention to ecological threats posed by a changing climate.
Simultaneous demonstrations are occurring in Sydney and Berlin, in addition to London, where protests were present in markets, streets, bridges and squares throughout the central city.
Despite the volume of arrests, interactions between police and protesters have been calm. This was especially true in Trafalgar Square, where police are directing all activists to sleep in tents, rather than in the streets near Westminster and the Home Office.
At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the city police and Transit for London had created a traffic diversion that detoured all cars away from Trafalgar Square and the West End, terminating bus routes short of their destinations and frustrating many commuters.
The remaining pedestrian and bike traffic could pass through traffic blocks created by parked cars, tents, and groups of people obstructing the roundabout at the center of the square. Activists and observers of a broad age range were in company of costumed street artists and buskers, and banners adorned the base of Nelson’s column encouraging urgency in response to ecological loss for climate reasons.
Arrests made in at Trafalgar Square on Monday night happened without the use of force, according to one woman who’d been arrested after around six hours of occupation.
Flo, who chose to withhold her surname while her case remains under investigation, said that the officers did not remove her from her position locked onto a trailer that blockaded the street. However, when she stood up to go, they took her into custody on charges of willful obstruction of the highways.
She was released after several hours in the jail and returned on Tuesday afternoon to distribute pamphlets on the Extinction Rebellion cause to passersby.
Some XR activists glued themselves to the Department for Transport building, and others, who occupied the popular Smithfield market, prevented sales from butcher stands and replaced the meat with produce. But many – like Flo – have simply sat down in the street and refused to move.