Extinction Rebellion to ‘pause’ London protests

Hundreds of officers from other police forces have been sent to London to help the Met

Extinction Rebellion is to “pause” the protests that have caused widespread disruption across central London for seven days.

The group said it would mark “a new phase of rebellion” to achieve “political aims”.

A total of 831 people have been arrested during the climate change protests and 42 people charged.

Hundreds of officers from other forces have been sent to London to help the Metropolitan Police.

Extinction Rebellion said it hoped to negotiate with the Mayor of London and the Met over continuing its demonstrations at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, and leaving other sites.

Farhana Yamin, from the group, said being able to “pause” the protests showed it was an “organised and a long-term political force to be reckoned with”.

“Today marks a transition from week one, which focused on actions that were vision-holding but also caused mass disruption across many dimensions,” she said.

“Week two marks a new phase of rebellion focused on negotiations where the focus will shift to our actual political demands.”

waterloo bridge disruption
Met chief Cressida Dick said Londoners had experienced ‘miserable disruption’ because of the protests

Oxford Circus has reopened to traffic after officers cleared protesters but they continue to occupy Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square.

Campaigners who glued themselves to the roof of a lorry on Waterloo Bridge were removed and the lorry was cleared in the early hours.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had never experienced anything like it in her career.

She said: “I’ve been a police officer for 36 years – I have never known an operation, a single operation, in which over 700 people have been arrested.”

waterloo bridge
More than 800 people have been arrested since protests began on Monday

Ms Dick added she was grateful for the help from hundreds of police officers drafted in from several forces, including the neighbouring City of London Police.

Officers from Kent, Sussex, Essex, Hampshire and Greater Manchester have also been sent.

Police have been trying to confine the protests to Marble Arch but demonstrators have ignored the threat of arrest and continued to block roads across the capital.

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg is expected to address Extinction Rebellion members at Marble Arch later ahead of meeting senior British politicians next week.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the protests were “counter-productive” to London and “more than 9,000 officers” had been responding to the demonstrations.

He said: “Londoners have suffered too much disruption and the policing operation has been extremely challenging for our over-stretched and under-resourced police.

“I’m extremely concerned about the impact the protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime if they continue any longer. It simply isn’t right to put Londoners’ safety at risk like this.

“My message to all protesters today is clear: you must now let London return to business as usual.”

oxford circus
Police cleared Oxford Circus of protesters on Saturday after six days of demonstrations
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What is Extinction Rebellion?

The co-founder of the protest group invites people to join

Since the group was set up last year, members have shut bridges, poured buckets of fake blood outside Downing Street, blockaded the BBC and stripped semi-naked in Parliament.

It has three core demands for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

Controversially, the group is trying to get as many people arrested as possible.

But critics say they cause unnecessary disruption and waste police time when forces are already overstretched.