Activists from the environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion threatened to remain at key London locations “as long as it takes” to force action on climate change.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested after blocking roads and camping at landmark sites throughout central London, including Oxford Circus, Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge.
“Thankfully, a lot of us are quite happy to be arrested and that’s how we’ll do it – stay for as long as possible and more and more of us will come,” said Olly, a 20-year-old student from London. “[We’re staying] for as long as it takes, until our demands are met.”
The demands of the well-drilled and media-savvy group have been widely publicised, essentially calling for more drastic government action on climate change, including the involvement of a Citizen’s Assembly to set the agenda.
A heavy police presence was noticeable at the Oxford Circus demonstration, while the London Underground entrances were bursting at the seams with people.
However, a short walk down the street produced a markedly different atmosphere, as the normally chock-a-block London roads (blocked off for the protests) exuded instead a serene calm.
Protests were held with the express intention of shutting down the capital, with group co-founder Roger Hallam saying: “Without disruption, no one is going to give you their eyeballs.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was “extremely concerned” about plans by the group to disrupt public transport routes, although he “shared the passion” they had with regard to climate change.