Climate protesters throw red paint over London’s Guildhall

Extinction Rebellion protesters have daubed the famous Guildhall in the City of London in red paint.

Protesters clad in business suits and masks held signs reading “Fossil fuel finance is killing the Earth” and “The financial industry is bleeding the Earth dry” for the “Blood Money” march on Friday.

Another huge banner read: “Built on blood money.”

The march was organised in partnership with anti-racism group United for Black Lives, and Extinction Rebellion said it aimed to “highlight the blood-soaked profiteering of our financial system”.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators outside the Guildhall (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The climate activists launched a week of action on Monday, with members occupying parts of London including Parliament Square and Oxford Circus.

Friday’s action took aim at what the group said is the City’s ongoing financing of the fossil fuel industry.

Extinction Rebellion said in a statement: “The Guildhall is the administrative and ceremonial heart of the corporation of the City of London.

“It is the symbolic and actual centre of the system that is killing us.”

The headquarters of banking and financial service company Standard Chartered were also splattered with red paint.

Extinction Rebellion protests
The Standard Chartered building was also targeted (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Extinction Rebellion is calling on the UK Government to halt all new fossil fuel investment immediately.

Fake blood was also poured over the London Stock Exchange, while earlier in the week the water in the Buckingham Palace fountain was dyed red.

On Friday evening the group blocked Queen Victoria Street close to Bank Station with bamboo structures.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police said it is preparing to deploy thousands of extra officers in the capital over the bank holiday weekend to police further climate protests as well as other planned events.

It said it has been forced to request “a small number” of extra police officers from neighbouring forces for support.

As of 6pm on Friday, there had been 305 arrests of Extinction Rebellion protesters over the course of the week.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “As we head into the weekend, we are ready to respond to a number of different demonstrations by protest groups, including Extinction Rebellion.

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Members of Extinction Rebellion dance in fake blood in Paternoster Square in the City of London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“This past week, officers have worked hard to balance the rights of the protesters with those of the community, however on many occasions demonstrators’ actions became unreasonable and they caused or tried to cause serious disruption to the public and businesses.

“Activists have frustrated the policing response by using complex lock-on devices which take time for officers to safely remove.

“They have also used paint to deface London landmarks – action which we consider is totally unacceptable

“Like everyone else, Extinction Rebellion have the right to assemble and protest, however this is a qualified right, and they do not have the right to cause serious and unreasonable disruption to others.

“The unreasonable disruption caused by Extinction Rebellion, particularly as London continues to recover from the pandemic, is deeply frustrating, especially for communities who will see local officers pulled into central London in response.”

Extinction Rebellion protests
A member of Extinction Rebellion rolling around in fake blood in Paternoster Square, close to St Paul’s Cathedral (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also warned the protests were diverting police resources from other parts of the city.

In a statement, he said: “I share the passion of those who have taken to the streets to highlight the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis.

“Preventing and reducing violent crime should be the priority of the police. That is why we want to keep the police presence at any protests in central London to a minimum so that our frontline police officers can focus on suppressing violence, tackling crime and keeping Londoners safe.”

He continued: “As well as the potential to divert police resources at a vital time, I’m concerned that ongoing disruptive and unlawful protests could hamper our city’s green recovery and, ultimately, risk turning public opinion against a vitally important campaign.

“I have always supported the democratic right to protest, and I urge anyone planning to protest this bank holiday weekend to co-operate fully with the police and to act peacefully, safely and lawfully at all times.”