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800 arrested in Extinction Rebellion protests ahead of City Airport action

UK News | Published:

Activists are planning a ‘Hong Kong style’ occupation of the terminal on Thursday as police confirm 800 people have been arrested in London so far.

Police have confirmed 800 Extinction Rebellion protesters have been arrested in London so far ahead of a plan to shut down City Airport for the next three days.

Activists say they will stage a “Hong Kong-style” occupation of the terminal building, lying, sitting or gluing themselves in front of the departure and arrival gates at the east London airport.

If they do not make it in to the terminal, they plan to blockade it from the outside, in protest against the climate impact of flying and the Government’s ongoing support of airport expansion.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Protesters have occupied Birdcage Walk, in central London, as part of the protests (Jonathan Brady/PA)

And the Metropolitan Police confirmed this evening 800 people have been arrested since Monday, with another 220 detained today.

Protesters have been camped, with tents, banners, food stalls and sound systems, on roads around Parliament Square and Whitehall, calling for urgent action on climate change and wildlife losses.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said the police have plans in place to intervene and “deal proactively” with anyone who has the intention of shutting down the airport.

And he said more than 80 tonnes of equipment being used for the protests in central London had been seized, including tents, portable toilets and generators.

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Police were clearing any sites outside the pedestrian area of Trafalgar Square, after restrictions were put in place to stop disruption in the capital, he said.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Stanley Johnson, father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, joins protesters in Trafalgar Square (Jonathan Brady/PA)

In the wake of Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling the protesters “unco-operative crusties”, his father Stanley Johnson said the comments were made in humour and he would consider it a compliment to be called a crusty by his son.

After speaking to a substantial crowd at the demonstration in Trafalgar Square, he told the PA news agency that Extinction Rebellion’s actions were “tremendously important”.

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He added: “It is absolutely clear to me that we have been moving far too slowly on the climate change issue.”

Extinction Rebellion protests
Mothers gather ahead of the Extinction Rebellion mass ‘nurse-in’ road blockade in Westminster, London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lorna Greenwood, 32, who organised the event, said: “We’re bringing the youngest lives who will be affected by the climate crisis to the heart of Westminster.”

On Thursday, attention is expected to turn to City Airport in east London, where Extinction Rebellion says hundreds of activists have signed up to “non-violently use their bodies” to close the airport, and are prepared to be arrested.

The protesters say air travel is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions, is unsustainable and unfair as a minority of people take the majority of flights.

Extinction Rebellion protests
The group known as the Red Rebels in a procession leaving St James’s Park, near Birdcage Walk, during the third day of Extinction Rebellion protests (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“We cannot do that with a government that is criminally neglecting to tackle the huge problem of aviation.

“Mass peaceful civil disobedience is essential to force our Government to take the necessary action before it is too late.”

A London City Airport spokesman said they were working with the Met Police to prepare for the protests and all passengers would be required to show their boarding pass to access the terminal.

“Climate change is a global challenge and we remain committed to building a more sustainable future for the airport and the aviation industry, ensuring that we are playing our part in meeting the UK’s 2050 carbon objectives,” he said.

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