Extinction Rebellion protesters outline plans to shut Westminster roads
Extinction Rebellion protesters plan to shut down roads around Westminster and stage a sit-in at City Airport in London as part of environmental protests in the next two weeks.
The protests are set to bring disruption to the centre of the capital as part of an “international rebellion” around the world calling for urgent action on the climate and wildlife emergencies.
Ahead of next week’s protests, eight people were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after Extinction Rebellion activists sprayed the Treasury in central London with fake blood to protest against funding for fossil fuels.
The Met Police said five men aged between 34 and 83 and three women aged between 34 and 60 were arrested and the fire engine used to spray the liquid was seized and removed.
At a briefing for the media on the forthcoming protest, activists said they planned to shut the streets leading to Westminster, targeting sites including Lambeth and Westminster Bridges and Trafalgar Square, each held by people from different parts of the country.
Protests will also be held outside government departments, calling on them to outline what their plans are to tackle the climate emergency, with protests including a farming group with a pink tractor.
Other actions include processions, marches and a peaceful sit-in at City Airport where they will try to hold the space for three days.
The protesters say they have not yet decided if they will hold a silent vigil to mark a lack of action in the Queen’s Speech on October 14 or to try to shut it down.
Extinction Rebellion spokesman Joel Scott-Halkes said: “We are going to the Government and specifically what we’re going to do is sit down peacefully in the roads.
“We’re going to blockade and shut down every single road going into the central area of Westminster around the UK Government.
“We are going to very loudly, very clearly, very respectfully say that if a government is taking its people towards extinction, it is not a government anymore that we respect.”
Another spokesman Robin Boardman, 21, said it could be five times bigger than the protests which brought major disruption to London in April and saw more than 1,100 arrests,
As many as 20,000 to 30,000 people could be involved this time, he said.
While Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave has warned of the strain policing protests will put on the force, Mr Boardman said the protests were not about the police, “it’s about putting pressure on the Government”.
Major events are also planned around the world in Australia, in Europe – in Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam – and in the US in New York and Washington DC.
Extinction Rebellion is calling on the Government declare a climate and ecological emergency, act immediately to halt wildlife loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
They want to see the Government create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Earlier in the year, Parliament declared a climate and environment emergency and the Government has passed a law to cut emissions to net zero by 2050, far later than the activists are demanding.
Mr Boardman said: “Right now we’re looking at a disastrous situation which demands so much radical action. It doesn’t demand the piecemeal action we’re currently seeing across the world.
“It needs radical change to our system because currently what we’re looking at is accelerating destruction, ecosystems across the world being wiped out at rates that are rapidly increasing.
“It highlights we are in a system that is criminally failing us, a system, economically, that cannot handle what is happening, it needs change in a dramatic way.”