Extinction Rebellion takes aim at financial districts on final day of protests

Climate change activists have targeted London’s financial districts to highlight what they call the business world’s “role in our collective suicide” on the 10th and final day of disruptive protests.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators temporarily blockaded the London Stock Exchange by gluing themselves across entrances to the trading hub in the City of London early on Thursday morning.

They were un-attached before being taken away in police vans and the Exchange said all markets were open as normal.

Elsewhere, five protesters including 83-year-old grandfather Phil Kingston clambered onto 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 confirming five 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 around a dozen buses seen stuck on either side of the blockade.

Some protesters were arrested at the scene.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Protesters from Extinction Rebellion demonstrating outside Goldman Sachs (Mason Boycott-Owen/PA)

Organisers say groups will target up to 10 locations by “swarming” areas including the Bank of England and Rothschild and Co in the City of London, and Deutsche Bank near Liverpool Street.

The Metropolitan Police did not immediately have any figures on the number of arrests it had made on Thursday.

XR said its action in the City of London was likely to last a few hours, on the day the group is due to end blockades at Parliament Square and Marble Arch.

A “closing ceremony” is due to be held at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park, at around 5pm but the group said the public should expect more action “very soon”.

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”.

Eco-protesters have urged ministers to declare a climate emergency to avoid what it calls a “sixth mass extinction” of species on Earth.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested during the protests which started on April 15, while more than 10,000 police officers have been deployed.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Extinction Rebellion protesters at the entrance to the London Stock Exchange (Isabel Infantes/PA)

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 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.”

Disruption continues outside #GoldmanSachspic.twitter.com/NwjFuQ9Xmn

— Extinction Rebellion 🐝⌛️🦋 (@ExtinctionR) April 25, 2019

A Transport for London spokesman said: “We are aware that there are demonstrations taking place across London which may cause disruption to travel.

“The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and we’re working closely with the police to manage the impact on London’s transport network. We would encourage people to check their journeys before they travel.”

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