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Extinction Rebellion campaigners bring colour and noise to heart of London

Some protesters lay under a trailer as police surrounded vehicles.

Extinction Rebellion protesters (Yui Mok/PA)
Extinction Rebellion protesters (Yui Mok/PA)

By Mike Bedigan and Laura Parnaby, PA

Westminster was awash with colour and buzzed to the sound of steel drums as climate change protesters from across the country once again brought their carnival of civil disobedience to the capital.

Extinction Rebellion activists, many in fancy dress, began what they said was two weeks of planned disruption, adopting similar tactics to their previous protest in April.

So far, the group has staked out 11 sites across the capital and almost 300 protesters have been arrested.

They began by blocking traffic from entering the roundabout at Trafalgar Square – provoking angry beeps from motorists as protesters chanted “Extinction Rebellion” through megaphones.

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Protesters on top of vehicles blocking the road in Trafalgar Square (Jonathan Brady/PA

Two Extinction Rebellion protesters mounted a Land Rover and trailer at Trafalgar Square roundabout, one wearing a gas mask and trench coat and the other with an flag and a sign reading “stop ecocide”.

Other protesters lay under the trailer as police surrounded the vehicles.

By 6.45pm on Monday, 280 protesters had been arrested, the Met Police said.

A 25-year-old teacher from London, who took the week off to join the protests but asked to be named, said: “The plan is to shut down the whole of London.

“The issue of climate change is an issue for everyone, and it’s clear we can’t leave it to the politicians.

“I booked the week off work for this. The school kids are out protesting too.”

John Curran, a former Met Police detective sergeant who joined the protest, said: “We’ve just had the hottest month in history.

“I have a three-year old called Natasha. I look at her and I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like in 20 years time.”

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Demonstrators dressed as bees on Whitehall, outside Downing Street, during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest in Westminster, London (Victoria Jones/PA)

A funeral car was later parked in Trafalgar Square, containing a coffin which read Our Future and its driver was locked to the steering wheel.

The roads behind Downing Street were blocked throughout the day by two groups of protesters, some of whom had erected tents in the street and were sat down singing songs together.

Among the group gathered at the Love Site were two young girls, Esme, 11, and Rafi, nine, who had taken the day off school to attend the protests.

Their mother Laurie, 41, said: “They’ve already done a spelling test this morning, sat down in the street, so we’re not wasting time.

“We’ve talked about the protests at home and the school knows where they are.”

“We’re here because we want the world to still be alive when we die,” said Rafi.

“We like school but it’s better here.”

“We’re going to stand here in the road and then maybe sit here in the road all day to make disruption so the parliament will do something about it,” added Esme.

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Protesters, dubbed the Red Rebels, outside the Cabinet Office on Whitehall, during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest in Westminster, London (Victoria Jones/PA)

A group of demonstrators dressed in long silver cloaks and bearing Extinction Rebellion head-pieces called themselves the Aged Agitators, from Bristol.

Others, dubbed the Red Rebels, wore red robes and white face paint and lined up in front of a row of uniformed police officers outside the Cabinet Office.

One couple even had a wedding on Westminster Bridge in front of crowds of fellow protesters.

Elsewhere, hundreds of activists staged a sit in at the famous Smithfield meat market in protest at the carbon footprint of the meat industry.

At many sites, activists had stage and sound equipment seized by police before they could set it up.

Some protesters said they planned to set up camp and stay overnight, and called on those sympathetic to come and join them.

PA

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