Dozens of environmental activists have been arrested as they attempted to block MPs from entering parliament on the first day back after the summer recess.
Thousands of protesters from Extinction Rebellion, the climate action group, descended on Westminster today where they aimed to blockade parliament by setting up camp on the roads immediately in front of it.
Activists gathered at sites including Tate Britain, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Cathedral, before marching on Parliament Square.
Police initially prevented demonstrators from blocking the roads, by corralling them in the square. However, by mid-afternoon, hundreds of activists had broken through a police cordon and sat down in the middle of roads, forcing traffic to stop.
As of 4 pm as many as 40 climate campaigners had been arrested and taken to police vans by officers, a spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion said.
The group is demanding that MPs adopt what activists are calling the “climate and ecological emergency bill” that seeks to bind the government to its Paris Climate Agreement commitments.
The bill is backed by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, and Kumi Naidoo, the former head of Greenpeace.
Rupert Read, one of the group’s founders and leaders, said that activists would attempt to set up camp in Westminster and hold the site for a number of days, with the ultimate aim of preventing MPs from entering parliament if they refuse to accept their demands.
Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police announced that it would impose conditions against protests planned for today, stating gatherings can only take place off the main roads at Parliament Square Gardens between 8 am and 7 pm.
A cordon of officers has formed around parliament while dozens of police vans have been deployed around Westminster.
Commander Jane Connors said the Met had imposed conditions on the marchers under the Public Order Act.
She said: “We know these protests may result in serious disruption to local businesses, commuters and our communities and residents, which I will not tolerate.
“If you take part in [today’s] assembly or processions and knowingly fail to comply with these conditions, or incite others to fail to comply, you may commit an offense and may be liable to arrest.”
Last year, more than 1,700 arrests were made within Extinction Rebellion’s “Autumn Uprising”, which lasted for ten days and caused disruption across the UK and large parts of central London.
The number of protesters is far smaller than in April and October of last year because of the pandemic.
Read rest at The Times
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