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Extinction Rebellion defies London police ban
Photography Vladimir Morozov, courtesy Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion defies police ban by continuing London protests

Rebels resumed their action at the Department for Transport this morning despite the Met issuing a city-wide ban on demonstrations last night

Extinction Rebellion’s two-week International Rebellion came to a premature end in London last night, as police issued a city-wide ban on the group’s climate change demonstrations. Protesters are undeterred though, continuing their disruption at the UK’s Department for Transport this morning.

The group’s co-founder Gail Bradbrook climbed on top of an entrance door porch of the London building, while another activist locked themselves to it. XR is calling for the Department of Transport to stop funding destructive projects – including the HS2 high-speed railway and airport extensions – and explain their plan to meet net zero emissions.

This morning’s action comes 12 hours after protesters – some of whom had glued themselves to the ground – were removed from Trafalgar Square. Activists have been occupying central London for the past week and were set to continue into this week before the Metropolitan Police issued their ban last night.

XR said in a press release: “The climate and ecological emergency isn’t going away and we remain resolute in facing it. To rebels, this is a moment to pause and remember why we are here. Extinction Rebellion will let the Trafalgar Square site go tonight. The International Rebellion continues.” 

In a statement yesterday, the police said: “Any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ must now cease their protest(s) within London by 21:00hrs.” Authorities cited “continued breaches” of the Public Order Act, and “ongoing serious disruption to the community” as reasons for the ban. The Met stated that anyone who didn’t comply would be arrested.

“(Police) are back-tracking on promises made,” XR London tweeted last night, “and, MEPs say, in contravention of UK law. This is an emergency, and an outrage. The police must respect the law. This is a democracy.” 

Green Party MEP Ellie Chowns was in Trafalgar Square yesterday when police arrived to remove demonstrators. In a video posted to Twitter she said: “The rules have been changed. No longer is any space in London allowable for peaceful, democratic protest. This is intolerable. The protesters have been peaceful – there is no justification for this curtailment of the democratic right to protest for the future of our children.”

Activists were previously warned to contain their action to the square, but were then reportedly given just 30 minutes notice before the 9PM ban was imposed and they had to clear the area.

Kevin Blowe, the coordinator for the Network for Police Monitoring, told the Guardian that the ban hadn’t gone through the due process that would usually be required. “A ban has to be made by the home secretary,” he said. “Our reading of it is that the section 14 (Public Order Act) powers are supposed to be used with caution because people still have a right to protest and potentially this is unlawful.”

According to the police, there have been 1,457 arrests in London since the International Rebellion began last Monday (October 7), with 76 of those being charged with offences including criminal damage and obstruction of a highway. 

The ban comes four days after the Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick published an open letter on the Evening Standard, claiming that XR protests were “drawing police away from battling violent crime”. The Home Office has confirmed it’s reviewing police powers around protests in response to XR’s action.

It’s unclear yet whether XR will continue their planned action in London for the rest of the week. Dazed has reached out to the group for comment.