Police ban Extinction Rebellion protests in London

(BBC) – Extinction Rebellion activists say they have left London’s Trafalgar Square after police issued a ban on the group’s climate change protests.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, the Metropolitan Police said demonstrators protesting in the capital after 21:00 BST could be arrested.

Extinction Rebellion said it would “let Trafalgar Square go” but added that the “International Rebellion continues”.

The protests, which began last Monday, have seen more than 1,400 arrests.

A number of demonstrations have been staged across the capital by the group, which is calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change. The protests were due to last two weeks.

On Monday evening, police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square, some of whom had glued themselves to the ground as they refused to leave.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters had targeted the City of London, blocking the crossroads outside the Bank of England.

The Met said there had been 1,445 arrests by 14:00 on Monday, with 76 people charged with offences including criminal damage and obstruction of a highway.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said the ban had been imposed due to breaches of the Public Order Act and “ongoing serious disruption to the community.”

Protests in the City had caused “further disruption to people and businesses”, he said, with police making more than 90 arrests.

He added: “The policing operation continues, and we will continue to take action against anyone engaged in unlawful protests at locations targeted by Extinction Rebellion.”

Previously, protesters had been warned by police to protest only in Trafalgar Square or risk arrest.

However, on Monday evening police began removing protesters from the site.

Four people who had locked themselves together inside a so-called peace tent were cut out of their locks with machinery by police.

‘I’ve glued myself to the ground’

Pam Williams, 71, glued herself to the spot where her tent stood as police arrived to take it.

She said protesters in Trafalgar Square were only given 30 minutes’ notice before the 21:00 BST deadline.

“I feel possibly that they’ve been approached by people we’ve upset today, maybe the finance sector or the banking sector,” she said.

“I’m refusing to leave and I’ve glued myself to the ground.

“My husband has taken away the tent, the police haven’t got it. I shall stay here until I’m arrested.”

Green Party MEP Ellie Chowns said she was arrested after “standing in solidarity” with protesters in Trafalgar Square.

She said in a video posted on Twitter that there was “no justification” for the ban on the protests.

“The rules have been changed,” she said. “No longer is any space in London allowable for peaceful democratic protest. This is intolerable.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, of the Finchley Reform Synagogue in north London, was arrested for leading a group of Jewish protesters to join activists blocking the five roads at Bank on Monday.

In a statement issued by the group, he said: “The highest principle is the saving of life, pikuach nefesh.

“There isn’t anything more that we’re doing here in Extinction Rebellion than being aware that millions, or hundreds of millions of people, already are at threat because of the changing climate.”

Last week, the Home Office confirmed to BBC News that it was reviewing police powers around protests in response to recent demonstrations.

It follows a letter from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick after August’s protests, which resulted in more than 1,100 arrests.