Protesters affiliated with the environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) have disrupted over 500,000 people in London since Monday 15th and have esclated protests to disrupt train and tube lines. In response, Transport for London has disabled wifi on the underground in response to a request by the British Transport Police.
Thousands of protesters have so far blockaded Marble Arch, Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, and Oxford Circus since the morning of April 15th. In a response on Twitter to the proposed escalation the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stated that he was ‘extremely concerned’ about the plans to disrupt the underground, saying that ‘targeting public transport in this way would only damage the cause of all of us who want to tackle climate change, as well as risking Londoners’ safety and I’d implore anyone considering doing so to think again.’
According to the Extinction Rebellion website similar events are occurring in 25 countries around the world as part of an international ‘climate rebellion’. Since the beginning of this week alone at least 290 arrests have been made relating to Extinction Rebellion disruptive actions in London. A further 29 arrests were made in Edinburgh after protesters blocked North Bridge on Monday, while the International Criminal Court building in The Hague was occupied on Tuesday.
Waterloo Bridge continues to be blockaded in spite of further arrests taking place. A lorry had been parked across the bridge, with some protesters physically attached to its underside. At least one arrest was made in Oxford Circus as protesters chanted ‘we are peaceful, what about you?’. This is due to a ‘Section 14’ order being put in place which allows police to impose conditions on ‘public assemblies’. This is currently allowing the protests to continue in Marble Arch while making them illegal at other sites.
Extinction Rebellion was formed in the UK last year and began acts of civil disobedience with a protest in London. The organisation calls for governments in the UK and around the world to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; governments to ‘tell the truth’ about climate change with regards to its seriousness and what is being done to mitigate it; and establish a citizens assembly to influence governments’ policies relating to ‘climate and ecological justice’.