Extinction Rebellion protesters bring large parts of London to a standstill

Thousands of climate protesters caused mass disruption as they blocked some of London’s busiest roads and bridges on Monday.

Campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR) is demanding the government declare a climate emergency and for it to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025.

“We don’t want to disrupt people, but our Government’s failure over the last 30 years leaves us no choice but to bring this to people’s attention,” an XR spokesperson said.

“If we had functioning democracies we wouldn’t need to disrupt everyday lives. We’ve tried petitions, marches, letters, reports, papers, meetings, even direct actions; and global emissions have continued to rise.”

Protesters occupied and blocked traffic at Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Traffic brought to a halt at various London landmarks. Photo: Awil Mohamoud

The group invited activists to refuse to move and allow themselves to be arrested.

One of the leading organisers, Roger Hallam, said: “You need about 400 to go to prison and you need two to three thousand people to get arrested.

“You win through fearlessness. This is not some pretty process where everyone’s going to be fine, but it’s better than violence.”

Police took a laissez faire approach in the morning protests. Photo: Awil Mohamoud
Protesters overwhelmed the sites with XR banners and flags. Photo: Awil Mohamoud
Police reluctantly step in to ask protesters to come down. Photo: Awil Mohamoud

The Met imposed a 24-hour condition at 6.55pm telling protesters on Waterloo Bridge to continue any demonstrations within the Marble Arch area only.

Police made 117 arrests – the majority for suspected breaches of Section 14 Notice of the Public Order Act 1986.

A spokesperson for the Met said: “We are taking positive action against those who are choosing to ignore this condition and are continuing to demonstrate in other areas across London.”

“There is a need to ensure the right balance is struck between allowing the right to peaceful protest, while disruption to communities is kept to a minimum.”

Three arrests were made at Shell’s headquarters after activists vandalised the building with messages like “Shell knew” and glued themselves to the doors.

Activists cause over £6,000 worth of damage at Shell HQ. Photo: Awil Mohamoud

A Shell spokesperson said: “We respect the right of everyone to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others in mind.”

There was a fun and relaxed atmosphere at Waterloo Bridge in the morning and afternoon. Parents brought their children and there was music, dance, live singing, art and skateboarding.

Art and decorations on show at the centre of Waterloo Bridge. Photo: Awil Mohamoud

At Parliament Square, leaders of the movement and public speakers took turns addressing the crowds on the lawn outside the main gates. Protesters held up banners and sang “power to the people”.

Parliament Square was the place to be for the self proclaimed philosophers. Photo: Awil Mohamoud

The youth marched down from Hyde Park Corner to Piccadilly Circus at around lunchtime to a procession of drumming and chanting.

Young people popularised the climate movement last month after striking from school. Photo: Awil Mohamoud

Protests are scheduled to continue in the capital over the next two weeks.

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