On the first day of Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) two weeks of planned protests, police took a hands-off approach as the green activists shut down London by erecting a giant table, lying underneath cars, and setting up tents.
Approximately one thousand climate change alarmist activists blocked one of the busiest junctions in the popular Covent Garden area (pictured) on Monday, marking the beginning of the so-called “Impossible Rebellion”.
XR protesters erected a 4-meter high pink table with the words ‘COME TO THE TABLE’ written across it. Several activists glued and chained themselves to the structure, which remains in the intersection at the time of this reporting.
One of the activists who stood atop the “disruptive pink table”, Linda Doyle, said: “If governments continue to fail us when climate breakdown is happening everywhere we look, ordinary people have to take matters into their own hands, rebel for life, and demand a new political economy designed to put the wellbeing of people and the planet first.”
Police cordoned off the area in an attempt to prevent more activists from gathering in the street, however, officers were seen blocking tourists and citizens from passing through.
Overnight we have continued to clear the roads around Extinction Rebellion’s protest on Long Acre junction, #CoventGarden.
— Metropolitan Police Events (@MetPoliceEvents) August 24, 2021
One restaurant worker arguing with an XR activist about the disruption caused said that the protest had severely impacted their business, as the police blockade had prevented all delivery services throughout the day.
The police again took a noticeably light touch to the protesters blocking a critical intersection in Central London, leaving the climate change extremists free to lay under cars, put up tents on the road, and stage hours of drum circles.
After the close of the business day, the Met finally issued a dispersal order, ultimately arresting 52 extinction rebellion activists — mostly in the evening hours.
The Met was criticized in March by the independent government watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), for taking a soft approach to previous Extinction Rebellion protests.
“One of the things that have caused it to get out of kilter is that police don’t always do enough to assess the impact that peaceful protests have on the lives of local residents and businesses. So this has sometimes caused enormous disruption and it’s tipped the balance in favor of the protesters,” Matt Parr of the HMICFRS said at the time.
Over the past year, the disparity in policing protests for fashionable causes has been most evident when compared to anti-lockdown demonstrations, which have often been forcibly shut down by the capital’s police force.
In one instance, 190 anti-lockdown protesters were arrested in a single evening for breaches of the country’s coronavirus restrictions.
It has been estimated that between 2019 and 2020, Extinction Rebellion cost the taxpayer over £50 million during their various efforts to “shut down” the city.
It is not clear, however, how much cost came to businesses impacted by acts of vandalism or disruption of service.
Last September, XR targeted the mainstream media in Britain, blocking off the entrances to two major printing plants.
The ‘direct action’ caused massive disruptions to the distribution of several major newspapers including The Sun, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, and the Financial Times.
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