Extinction Rebellion arrest tally rises as group starts legal fight against ban
Activists plan a rally in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday in defiance of a police ban on the Autumn Uprising protests
More than 1,640 climate change protesters have now been arrested over demonstrations that have brought parts of London to a halt.
The Metropolitan Police gave the latest arrest tally as the force faces legal action over a city-wide ban on the Autumn Uprising protests by Extinction Rebellion (XR).
Lawyers for the group are applying for a judicial review of the ban at the High Court on Wednesday after some claimed it was unlawful.
The ban was condemned by the Green Party and Labour, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott saying it was “completely contrary to Britain’s long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest”.
Police used section 14 of the Public Order Act to restrict the protest, originally at 12 sites near Westminster, to the pedestrian area of Trafalgar Square.
After what Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor called “continued breaches” of the order, officers moved in to clear Trafalgar Square on Monday night.
TODAY: The Rebellion Strikes Back. 10am lawyers for XR submit an urgent application for judicial review to High Court; high profile claimants contravene London-wide ban; 12:30 mothers & babies action; 1:30pm join our emergency assembly in Trafalgar Sq. https://t.co/Ogt24aLwfl pic.twitter.com/sGjZhlmzeV— Extinction Rebellion UK 🗳️🌍 (@XRebellionUK) October 16, 2019
Under the order, any assembly – a group of more than two people – linked to the Autumn Uprising is unlawful.
Protesters are set to continue defying the ban, with a group of breastfeeding mothers and babies going to the offices of Google and YouTube, and a rally at Trafalgar Square.
Environmental journalist and campaigner George Monbiot was aiming to get arrested at Trafalgar Square.
I now have a time and place for my intended arrest. We are holding an assembly in Trafalgar Square at 1.30 today. The police, in a direct attack on the right to peaceful protest, this week declared such assemblies illegal, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.— George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) October 16, 2019
Julian Thompson from XR said: “We have been on the streets to demand that the Government produces a plan to deal with the climate and ecological emergency.
“The Government’s silence is deafening, with no mention of it in the Queen’s Speech, which is their programme for government for the year.
“At a time when it’s more important than ever to peacefully assemble and protest on these emergencies, we are now at risk of being silenced by the authorities.
“This is a dangerous precedent. We need more democracy, not less.”
A Government spokesman said: ““The UK is already taking world-leading action to combat climate change as the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely by 2050.
“While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives.”