Pink climate boat towed from Oxford Circus after five-day blockade

A pink boat used by Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists to blockade Oxford Circus has been towed away by police after five days at the heart of the climate demonstrations in London.

The boat, which became a symbol for the ongoing disruption, was dismantled on Friday afternoon, several hours after Dame Emma Thompson used it as a stage to rally protesters.

Police were initially forced to remove several activists from the deck as dozens of other officers formed a huge line to force back others on the ground.

The boat being dismantled by police
Police dismantled the boat’s mast before it was towed away (Yui Mok/PA)

The mast was then dismantled and the boat was towed away to a nearby location as the crowds chanted, “we have more boats”.

A cordon was also placed around the area during the removal.

The scene unfolded as the Metropolitan Police said it had made 106 arrests by around 5.30pm on Friday, bringing the total since Monday to 682.

“The serious disruption the demonstrations are causing to people in London and beyond is unacceptable and we completely understand the concern it is causing to those who are disrupted by it,” a tweet said.

*Arrest update*

So far today we have made 106 arrests. This brings the total to 682.

The serious disruption the demonstrations are causing to people in London and beyond is unacceptable and we completely understand the concern it is causing to those who are disrupted by it

— MPS Events (@MetPoliceEvents) April 19, 2019

Hours earlier Dame Emma, the Oscar-winning British actress, arrived in Oxford Circus and gave a speech to crowds from the boat.

She said: “We are here in this little island of sanity and it makes me so happy to be able to join you all and to add my voice to the young people here who have inspired a whole new movement.”

Speaking after to reporters, Dame Emma added: “If you can’t have fun whilst saving the planet, what’s the point?

“Protest should always have a sense of joy in it because what we are protesting about is saving this extraordinary home of ours and also celebrating the passion and inspiring energy of this young generation.”

Extinction Rebellion protests
Actress Emma Thompson joined Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at Oxford Circus in London and addressed crowds from the pink boat (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Earlier, on Friday morning, about 20 activists, most of them under 17, had staged a brief demonstration on roads near Heathrow Airport.

Standing close to a tunnel which leads to terminals two and three, they unfurled a black banner with the message: “Are we the last generation?”

Several police officers watched over the group before an XR spokesman announced before midday there were no further plans to cause disruption at the airport.

All roads remained open during the demonstration, which is part of a two-week campaign that began in central London on Monday.

Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at London Heathrow airport
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at London Heathrow airport (Aaron Chown/PA)

Waterloo Bridge has now been blocked by demonstrators for five days.

Ten people had been charged by the Met by Thursday night and three others arrested by British Transport Police were remanded in custody after they appeared in court accused of obstructing trains at Canary Wharf.

Routes are also blocked around Parliament Square and Marble Arch, and Home Secretary Sajid Javid has urged police to use the “full force of the law”.

“I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law,” Mr Javid said.

“They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives.”

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told BBC Breakfast the protests were “very, very difficult” to handle and could cost “millions”.

XR has pledged to continue causing disruption until its demands are met.

They want the Government to declare a climate emergency and take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

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