Extinction Rebellion protesters hold up city centre traffic

Protesters with Extinction Rebellion have caused major disruption to a key road artery into Birmingham city centre during rush hour as part of a continuing campaign to prompt action on climate change.

About 30 demonstrators took up position on the busy Belgrave Interchange, where the ring road and the Bristol Road meets the Pershore Road, causing hold-ups for for well over an hour.

The group would walk out into the carriageway for seven-minute periods, with some walking among the drivers explaining the reasons for the protest.

Extinction Rebellion protest in Birmingham
A man gestures towards Extinction Rebellion protesters blocking traffic in Birmingham’s Bristol Road (Jake King/PA)

At one stage, officers with West Midlands Police, who were monitoring the demonstration, asked protesters to step out of the road amid reports of a woman in labour stuck in the queues.

Police also told the group to halt their protests altogether on one side of the carriageway, because drivers backed-up in vehicles sitting in the Queensway tunnels – which run through the city centre – were inhaling fumes.

A protester said: “Police asked us not to block this side of the road, because drivers are getting stuck in the tunnels.

“So they’re concerned about people breathing in the air, because of the fumes.”

Another demonstrator said they were “happy” to cooperate with police because the key was to get their message across.

Extinction Rebellion protest in Birmingham
One motorist out of his vehicle speaking to a protester in a high-visibility jacket (Jake King/PA)

During the height of the disruption it was taking more than 10 minutes for drivers to get one mile.

One commuter, whose journey to work had been disrupted, said: “They’re running petrol out.

“Where’s the sense?

“Some of us have got work to get to.”

There was also verbal abuse, with some drivers making gestures as they drove past the knot of protesters.

One man got out of his car to remonstrate with the demonstrators, who had been handing out leaflets explaining why traffic was being held up.

However, other drivers were more understanding or pragmatic, with one Uber driver saying: “What can you do?”

Another commuter, Steve, who is a shift worker in healthcare, said: “It’s annoying and I’m going to be late for work.

“But on the other hand, I agree with what they’re doing because we do need to change how we’re living.”

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