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Dublin: 4°C Friday 5 March 2021

'Extinction Rebellion': London climate change protests enter fourth day

428 people have now been arrested in the UK capital.

Extinction Rebellion protests A climate change protester is removed by police on Regent Street Source: PA Wire/PA Images

CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVISTS  brought London to a standstill for the fourth day running in demonstrations that have led to over 400 arrests.

Hundreds of protesters rallied throughout central London today, where they have blocked a bridge and major road junctions this week as part of a Europe-wide civil disobedience campaign over the issue.

Today, The Metropolitan Police said that 428 people had been arrested since the protests began on Monday.

Meanwhile, a judge denied bail to three people who appeared in court charged with obstructing the transport system at financial hub Canary Wharf yesterday. 

District judge Julia Newton ordered the trio – who allegedly glued themselves to a train – be held in custody until their next court appearance on 16 May. 

Under pressure in the media to crackdown on the disruptive demonstrations, Home Secretary Sajid Javid warned “unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated” after meeting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

“No one should be allowed to break the law without consequence,” he said in a statement, adding that he expected police “to take a firm stance”.

Protesters have been setting up impromptu encampments at Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and at Oxford Circus in London’s busy West End entertainment and shopping district.

They laid trees in pots along the bridge’s length and also set up camps in Hyde Park in preparation for further demonstrations.

More than 1,000 officers were being deployed to the streets of the capital each day this week, according to Javid. 

The police have ordered the protesters to confine themselves to a zone within Marble Arch, a space at the junction of the park, Oxford Street and luxury hotel-lined Park Lane.

‘Ecological justice’

The protests are being spearheaded by the Extinction Rebellion activist group, established last year in Britain by academics and which has since become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements.

It has vowed to maintain the protests for weeks in a bid to force state action over climate change, with Heathrow Airport – Europe’s busiest flight hub – the latest site to be targeted today. 

The group wants the British government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, halt biodiversity loss and be led by new “citizens’ assemblies on climate and ecological justice”.

Its protesters say they are practicing non-violent civil disobedience and aim to get arrested to raise awareness of their cause. 

The majority arrested this week were detained for breaching public order laws and obstructing a highway.

However, police seized three men and two women outside the UK offices of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell on suspicion of criminal damage after they allegedly daubed graffiti and smashed a window there.

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