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1,000+ Arrested as Extinction Rebellion Protests in London Enter Second Week

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Climate change activists gather in front of the stage at the Extinction Rebellion group's environmental protest camp at Marble Arch in London on April 22, on the eighth day of the group's protest calling for political change to combat climate change. TOLGA AKMEN / AFP / Getty Images

Extinction Rebellion, the climate protest that has blocked major London thoroughfares since Monday April 15, was cleared from three key areas over Easter weekend, The Guardian reported.


Police removed protesters from Oxford Circus Saturday, and from the roads Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge Sunday. The last person to be arrested clearing the bridge was a 70-year-old woman who had been arrested once before during the protests at Oxford Circus.

"I have been a nurse and a childminder most of my life," the woman, who preferred not to give her name, told The Press Association. "The world we are leaving for the children and grandchildren is going to be horrendous and we let it happen. It happened on our watch. So we have to stand up and fight or lie down and fight."

Despite the loss of the three sites, the movement is far from over. On Monday afternoon, around 100 protesters staged a die-in at London's Natural History Museum to call attention to the sixth mass extinction, BBC News reported.

Protesters also continue to gather at Marble Arch, where they were addressed Sunday by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been credited with inspiring the youth climate strike movement.

"Keep going. You are making a difference," Thunberg said, as BBC News reported Sunday.

The protesters are calling for the government to "tell the truth about climate change," to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and to create a citizen's assembly to help drive the process. They aim to maximize arrests in order to call attention to the climate crisis.

According to the most recent BBC figures, the protest has led to 1,065 arrests so far, among them Olympic gold medalist Etienne Stott. Fifty-three people have actually been charged. Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said that she had never seen a single police operation lead to so many arrests in her 36-year career. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that more than 9,000 police officers had responded since the protest began.

On Sunday, Khan, who has spoken in favor of climate action and has committed to divesting London from fossil fuels, urged the protesters to let London return to "business as usual" in a statement Sunday.

"I'm extremely concerned about the impact these protests are having on our ability to tackle issues like violent crime if they continue any longer," he said. "It simply isn't right to put Londoners' safety at risk like this."

In an update on their website Monday, Extinction Rebellion said the protests would enter a new phase in their second week. Protesters held a people's assembly at 3 p.m. at Marble Arch to decide on next steps. They were then planning to offer free food from 5 p.m.

"We fully recognise Extinction Rebellion has caused disruption for many Londoners, so we are extending our love through food to all who would like to join us," the group wrote on a Facebook event for the planned "Earth Feast."

Sky reported that future plans included marching to Parliament Square Tuesday morning for an action lasting through Wednesday, then marching to London's financial district on Thursday.

The group declared the first phase of its protest a success.

"This success can be expressed in numbers: at the most conservative estimate we've welcomed 30,000 new members, and have received almost £300,000 in crowdfunding, the great majority of donations being around of £10," they wrote.

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Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

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If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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