XR occupies two central London bridges during second week of climate protests

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have occupied parts of two famous bridges in central London in the second week of the group’s demonstrations across the capital.

The southern end of the London Bridge was taken over by activists, who blocked the road with a bus on Tuesday, while others gathered on Tower Bridge and sat on top of a parked caravan on Monday.

The Metropolitan Police said that as of 6.45pm on Tuesday, 43 further arrests had been made in connection with the protests, taking the total number to 469.

The force said the arrests were made for a variety of offences.

Officers surrounded the bus on London Bridge and were seen using batons and dragging protesters off the vehicle.

Other demonstrators were handcuffed and police blocked several nearby streets to stop people entering the area.

Footage showed scores of Met officers pushing back activists, who continued to advance, banging drums and clapping, while others glued themselves to pavements.

Earlier, more arrived at London Bridge station waving banners and placards, with slogans including “stop the harm” and “please don’t arrest me, I’m on call tomorrow”.

Pedestrians coming from the station were diverted away from the protest by approximately 20 officers and police vans on one road alone.

An officer confirmed some people taking part in the protest were being arrested, and the road closures would be in place “for hours”.

The Met later defended the use of force by its officers saying the use of force was “reasonable and proportionate”.

The force tweeted: “There have been some questions today on our use of force while attempting to disrupt the protest involving Extinction Rebellion’s bus.

“It is very clear that the demo near London Bridge was an attempt to cause a major disruption to one of London’s busiest bridges.

“Seeing this, officers nearby took immediate action to prevent any unreasonable disruption to the highway, and to detain those attempting to cause disruption or who were obstructing officers in the lawful execution of their duty.

“We believe this swift action prevented some protesters from setting up further complex lock-on devices which were inside the bus.

“Given the circumstances and likely disruption to the community, our initial assessment is that their use of force was reasonable and proportionate.”

Among those taking part in the protest was Olympic medallist Etienne Stott, who was filmed sitting in the middle of the road speaking to police.

The slalom canoer, who took gold at the 2012 London games, refused to move and was eventually picked up and carried off by officers, shouting “this is important”.

Police detain a demonstrator on London Bridge (Ian West/PA)
Police detain a demonstrator on London Bridge (Ian West/PA)

Extinction Rebellion London tweeted: “We will leave the streets when the Government starts treating the climate emergency like an emergency.

“Covid showed what the Government can do in a crisis, it’s the level of response required for the climate but sustained over years. #ExtinctionRebellion”.

Eleven demonstrators were arrested during the Tower Bridge protest on Monday.