Earlier this week, London’s Metropolitan police outright banned a climate activism group from protesting.
Extinction Rebellion (XR), an international, nonviolent pressure group, has spent the past week occupying public spaces in Central London. They’re participating in “Two Weeks of Global Action” — an international protest against governmental inaction on the climate crisis.
Through civil disobedience, they’re demanding the UK government acknowledge and actively combat biodiversity loss, carbon emissions, and ecological collapse.
These protests, although nonviolent, have faced severe backlash from the police.
Since the demonstration began on October 7th, the police have arrested over a thousand protesters. Yet the protests have persevered, causing the police to place a complete ban on XR protests.
Police / Extinction Rebellion tensions escalate
Shortly after the protests began last Monday, the police demanded protesters contain their demonstrations to Trafalgar Square, a public square near the Houses of Parliament. Since then, XR protesters have occupied the square 24/7 for almost two weeks.
But the protests have nonetheless expanded throughout the city.
Police have repeatedly attempted to further confine and end these protests, mainly by arresting around 100 protesters every day. But these arrests have only caused the movement to gain more traction. The police have grown more frustrated by the nonviolent protests, invoking a complete ban on Monday.
This ban challenges the public’s right to protest, according to several legal sources. But since it hasn’t been appealed yet, police are using the ban as an excuse to arrest protesters by the dozens.
Protesters have actively defied this ban since Monday, amplifying their demonstrations.
Protests have heated up. Some parked a hearse, representing biodiversity loss and species extinction, in Trafalgar Square. Many protesters have spray-painted buildings, while others have chained themselves to street lamps and cars to prevent police from arresting them.
Some protesters have stalled the London Underground by standing atop of or gluing themselves to trains. And they’ve hung a banner reading “Truth Demands Action” in front of Parliament on the River Thames.
Protesters have also blocked traffic in London’s financial district, chanted with drums in front of Buckingham Palace, and glued themselves to the entrance of London’s Stock Exchange building.
A group of about 100 new mothers even staged a “nurse-in” in front of Google’s London headquarters. As Google has recently received criticism for donating to climate-denying interest groups, mothers stood outside and breastfed their infants — the next generation doomed to face dire climate consequences.
As the protests have heated up, so have the police’s retaliations.
Arrests have continued by the day. Over 1,400 protesters were arrested last week alone, some violently.
And on Saturday, the police raided an XR building in London with a battering ram. They took protest supplies such as mobility ramps, which Extinction Rebellion uses to ensure their protest spaces are accessible.
Despite the police’s numerous attempts to quench London’s Extinction Rebellion protests, the movement is going strong.
In a recent XR statement, the group thanked Londoners “for opening their hearts and demonstrating their willingness to act on that truth.”
“Now it is time to bring this telling of the truth to communities around London, the regions and nations of the UK, and internationally. In this age of misinformation, there is power in telling the truth.”