Extinction Rebellion protesters warned to move on or face arrest

Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion protesters who spent a first night camped out in Westminster to draw attention to climate change have been ordered by police to move on or face arrest.

Many of those who blocked Horseferry Road overnight were warned they will be arrested unless they move to nearby Trafalgar Square, as police seek to avoid a second day’s disruption which saw parts of central London virtually cut off to traffic.

Some determined activists glued themselves to the Department for Transport building in Westminster as police swept in, a tactic used during similar protests in the UK earlier this year and across the rest of the world since a fortnight of international action began on Monday.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Extinction Rebellion protesters who have set up camp on Horseferry Road and Marsham Street in Westminster, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Met Police said it had arrested 319 people on Monday, easily surpassing the 122 arrests made on the first day of similar protests in the capital in April.

However, Scotland Yard was unable to provide further details on what people were arrested on suspicion of.

The Met said updated arrest figures would be published later.

Around 200 protesters are thought to have camped in tents overnight on Horseferry Road and the surrounding area.

It came after Boris Johnson described the protesters as “uncooperative crusties”, and called on them to abandon their “hemp-smelling bivouacs”.

But many said they were prepared to stay in their makeshift camp.

Activist Mike Gumn, 33, from Bristol, camped overnight wearing a suit and a flat cap to show the protest “is for everyone”.

Activist Mike Gumn
Activist Mike Gumn (Laura Parnaby/PA)

Mr Gumn, an NHS manager who has two children aged two and three, told the PA news agency: “I have a job, I have taken annual leave to be here.

“I’d rather be with my family.

“I want to make a statement that (the activists) are all different sorts of people from all different walks of life, not just people you would call hippies.”

On being arrested, he said: “We will decide as a group when we are going to move, and we are not going to let police tell us when.

“I would not like to get arrested, but if that happens when I am exercising my right to protest and deliver a good life for my children, then I will take it on the chin.”

One activist in his 20s added: “They (police) came round and told us that we should be moving on. I don’t think we are going to move on.

“It’s not a risk if you know you’re going to be arrested.

“It’s something I’ll do if I need to.

Scenes outside the Department for Transport
Scenes outside the Department for Transport (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Another young activist added that there was no pressure from the movement to protest in a particular way.

“Just because you’re being arrested doesn’t mean you do or don’t support Extinction Rebellion any more than the next person,” she said.

“There are people within this group that support this group very much and they won’t be getting arrested, but they support everybody.”

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