Climate change activists bring disruptive protests to an end
Climate change activists in London have brought 10 days of disruptive protests to an end with a so-called closing ceremony.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators gathered at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park on Thursday evening for the event marking an end to the current wave of blockades in the capital.
Skeena Rathor, vision co-ordinator for XR, welcomed the “rebels” to the event which was billed as a “closing ceremony” by the group.
She described the crowd of hundreds of people sitting on the grass as “beautiful beings”, adding: “This is our pause ceremony.
“Welcome to the beginning of our pause.”
Ms Rathor invited the eco-protesters to “begin a process of reflection” after the 10-day campaign, adding: “Thank you for what you have done this week.
“It is enormous. It is beyond words.”
She said: “We are here for all of us. And together we are all we need.”
Answering a shout from the crowd, she added: “And for all species. Absolutely.”
On their final day, XR members temporarily blockaded the London Stock Exchange by gluing themselves across entrances to the trading hub in the City of London in the morning.
The action came after the group announced on Wednesday it would end blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.
Members of the group targeted London’s financial districts to highlight what they call the business world’s “role in our collective suicide”, on the final day of protests.
They were un-attached before being taken away in police vans, with Scotland Yard saying 13 people had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespassing.
The Exchange said all markets were open as normal.
Elsewhere, six protesters including 83-year-old grandfather Phil Kingston clambered on to the roof of a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in east London, holding signs saying “business as usual = death” and “don’t jail the canaries”.
British Transport Police (BTP) used ropes, ladders and harnesses to remove them before saying six people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway.
In central London, dozens of XR members including drummers and banner-carriers could be seen demonstrating outside offices of bankers Goldman Sachs on Fleet Street.
The group moved down the road and blockaded it at intervals, with about a dozen buses seen stuck on either side of the blockade.
Police said 13 people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespassing in Fleet Street.
Protesters later glued themselves to the front of the Treasury in Westminster.
The nine protesters, two men and seven women, formed a chain of people preventing others from entering One Horse Guards Road.
An XR spokeswoman said Thursday’s targets were selected because “the financial industry is responsible for funding climate and ecological destruction and we are calling on them, the companies and the institutions that allow this to happen, to tell the truth”.
The spokeswoman added the sign “business as usual = death” was a reference to “the financial sector’s role in our collective suicide”.
Despite holding a “closing ceremony”, XR said the public should expect more action “very soon”.
Eco-protesters have urged ministers to declare a climate emergency to avoid what it calls a “sixth mass extinction” of species on Earth.
Some 1,130 people have been arrested during the protests which started on April 15, while more than 10,000 police officers have been deployed.
The Metropolitan Police said 69 people have been charged, while BTP has charged three people.
The action has seen Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus blocked, a “die-in” at the Natural History Museum, and activists gluing themselves to objects.
In a statement on Wednesday announcing the end of its action, XR said: “We would like to thank Londoners for opening their hearts and demonstrating their willingness to act on that truth.
“We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency.”