Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Extinction arrests surpass 1,000

NEXT STEPS:The climate protesters held a public meeting to decide on its course of action, with suggestions including pausing the action and taking it outside London

The Guardian

A demonstrator carries a poster near Marble Arch in London on Monday during the Extinction Rebellion protest.

Photo: Reuters

More than 1,000 people have been arrested during Extinction Rebellion climate protests in London, police said, in what organizers described as “the biggest civil disobedience event in modern British history.”

The Metropolitan Police said that as of 10am on Monday, they had made 1,065 arrests and 53 people had been charged in relation to the protests.

Police late on Sunday cleared activists from Waterloo Bridge after reopening sites at Oxford Street and Parliament Square earlier in the day.

Protesters from those sites moved to the main camp at Marble Arch, where they have been given permission to gather.

On Monday, as people at the camp enjoyed musical performances in the sunshine, scores of environmental activists staged a protest at the Natural History Museum in south Kensington. The group lay on the floor in a “die in” to raise awareness of the mass extinction of species.

Demonstrators gathered underneath the museum’s blue whale skeleton and remained to listen to an impromptu classical music performance.

Extinction Rebellion held a public meeting on Monday afternoon to decide its next course of action.

After hearing from a range of speakers on the options available to them, the crowd of hundreds split into groups before representatives took to the stage one at a time to feed their views back.

The suggestions ranged from pausing direct action and taking the action outside of the capital, to staging protests in the City of London and outside parliament.

“This has been the biggest civil disobedience event in modern British history. There have never been 1,000 people arrested before,” movement founder and organizer Roger Hallam said.

The number of arrests surpassed that at the anti-nuclear protests in Upper Heyford in 1982 (752) and at the poll tax riots in 1990 (339), he said.

More than 1,300 suffragettes were arrested during the campaign for women’s suffrage from 1906 to 1914.

He said that they had confirmation from police that no officers had been hurt in the protests.

The protests would continue for at least another week, Hallam said.

“We’re hoping that the political class wake up, because if they don’t, the next thing that will happen will be much more dramatic,” he said.

The group is planning to stage a demonstration this week in Parliament Square as lawmakers return to Westminster following recess.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called the disruption “counterproductive” to the cause of climate change, saying that it is stretching police resources.

Shane Collins, a Green Party district councilor in Mendip and volunteer organizer, said that the fact that the Marble Arch camp was a strictly no drugs and alcohol zone had contributed to a positive atmosphere.

“One of the most beautiful things for me was in my tent about five nights ago, I heard bird song,” he said. “Nobody has heard bird song in Marble Arch for decades because of the traffic the birds can’t communicate. The traffic has gone, air pollution has dropped, the sound levels have dropped, the birds are back.”

British Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott, who attended the protests over the weekend, was arrested on Waterloo Bridge on Sunday evening.

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