Activists arrested on second day of XR mass protest

Protesters have been arrested for spray painting and laying in the road during the second day of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in central London.

The climate protest group said two women had been arrested for spray painting the floor outside the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) with “Oil=Death”, “Crisis”, “Barclays” and “HMRC”.

An elderly woman who lay in the road was carried off by four policemen and appeared to be arrested, with XR protesters suggesting this was for obstruction.

A police officer stands among slogans sprayed onto the pavement outside the offices of HM Revenue and Customs
A police officer stands among slogans sprayed onto the pavement outside the offices of HM Revenue and Customs (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Other demonstrators lay in front of a banner saying “Government in bed with climate criminals”.

After gathering at Parliament Square, demonstrators ran towards slow-moving traffic on Whitehall for the second day of its planned 12-day mass protest.

A Transport for London spokesperson said that Parliament Street in Whitehall was blocked in both directions and that there was slow-moving traffic in pockets of central London near Embankment and in Westminster, with local delays expected.

Mike E, 72, who declined to give his full name, joined XR in 2019 but protested in London for the first time on Tuesday.

He said that people labelling the climate activist group “extremist” was “nonsense”.

A demonstrator is carried away by police during a protest by members of Extinction Rebellion on Whitehall
A demonstrator is carried away by police during a protest by members of Extinction Rebellion on Whitehall (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We’re just ordinary human beings who’ve come from all over the country. We’ve different backgrounds and pasts. We may be a little more courageous than some others but that’s all. We’re all in this together,” he said.

“Extremism is just a way of being able to label an organisation that you don’t like that might encourage people to take power away from you. It’s nonsense.”

Gaby, 48, from Bristol, who also declined to give her full name, said she had been campaigning for environmental change since she was at school and said that XR had helped spur on a much-needed urgency to the movement.

She said: “For years and years you do little bits and small things happen but the change we need now is so urgent that as many people need to come out on the streets to show that they don’t agree with the direction our earth is going in.”

She added that as a mother, her “heart bleeds” for her sons’ futures, saying: “I’m a mother of two boys. One is grown up and another is almost out of school, and it’s really sad for me to know that in their heads are questions about whether it’s wise for them to have children and what their futures will look like.

“My heart bleeds for them and all the people who are already facing the crap we have here.”

A silent protest where a group of some 20 demonstrators wearing burlap fabric and their bodies painted white also walked down from Trafalgar Square towards Whitehall.

A protest by members of Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square
A protest by members of Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Their robes had signs saying things like “Funding Climate Hell”, “Burned Gas Burned Our Future” and “Permitted New Oil Drilling In Spite of Crisis”.

The giant pink table erected in the middle of a central London street by protesters on Monday has been dismantled by police.

Segments of the four-metre structure were seen being carried off by men in hard hats and blue overalls on Tuesday.

Earlier, the Metropolitan Police said officers had also removed chairs which the activists had glued themselves to and had made “many arrests”.

A spokesman for the force declined to give a running total of arrest numbers but said 52 people had been detained for a “variety” of offences as of 10.15pm on Monday.

A cordon was put in place in the tourist hotspot of Covent Garden, blocking off parts of the Long Acre junction with Upper St Martin’s Lane.

Activists set up the large pink structure, which featured the words “come to the table”, on Monday and it contained built-in lock-ons where protesters could attach themselves to make their removal difficult for police. It also had sleeping quarters and a stereo system.

Protesters block the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane with a large pink structure featuring the words “Come to the Table” (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Protesters block the junction of Long Acre and Upper St Martin’s Lane with a large pink structure featuring the words ‘come to the table’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Some demonstrators were pictured standing on top of the structure waving pink flares.

XR kicked off its Impossible Rebellion protests on Monday when demonstrators blocked roads in central London, including around Trafalgar Square, as they demanded the Government immediately end investment in fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

The Met said a “significant” operation would be in place for the protests over the bank holiday weekend but also acknowledged the activists’ “important cause”.