Extinction Rebellion defy London protest ban

Group ordered to leave makeshift camp at Trafalgar Square

Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion climate action movement, speaks before smashing a window at the front of the building housing the government's Department for Transport in central London on October 15, 2019 as part of Extinction Rebellion's Autumn uprising global protests.  / AFP / ISABEL INFANTES
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Extinction Rebellion have continued protesting in London despite police enforcing a ban on the group's demonstrations throughout the city.

Gail Bradbrook, the group's co-founder, was arrested on Tuesday morning after she staged a protest on the roof of a government building.

Dr Bradbook was seen trying to smash windows at the Department for Transport with a hammer before being brought down from the roof by police on a cherry-picker.

London’s Metropolitan Police announced on Monday that it would be clearing protesters out of Trafalgar Square, where Extinction Rebellion had set up camp.

Previously, protesters had been warned by authorities to demonstrate only in the square or face arrest.

The environmental group had planned to stage two weeks of protests, which began on October 7, as part of an “International Rebellion”. Similar protests have been held in New York, Sydney and few European cities.

“Anyone who fails to comply with the condition is liable for arrest and prosecution,” the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said.

The force said "continued breaches" of conditions limiting the protest to Trafalgar Square had forced it to ban the protests outright.

"Red Brigade" activists walk during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration, in London, Britain October 14, 2019.  REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
"Red Brigade" activists walk during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration outside the Bank of England. Reuters

Earlier on Monday, police made more than 90 arrests after protesters descended on the City of London, blocking roads outside the Bank of England.

Police said the demonstrations had caused “further disruption to people and businesses in London's financial district”. So far more than 1,400 climate activists have been arrested in the latest wave of protests.

Extinction Rebellion called the ban a "disproportionate and unprecedented attempt to curtail peaceful protest" and said it would take legal action against it.

"Our lawyers have delivered a 'Letter before Action' to the Met and asked for an immediate response," a statement by the group on Tuesday read.

The ban has been criticised by members of the opposition Labour Party, including shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who described the move as "completely contrary to Britain's long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest".

In turn, Home Secretary Priti Patel accused Labour of supporting "law-breakers" and praised the police.

Some protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday but no arrests were reported.

Green Party member of the European Parliament Ellie Chowns said she was arrested on Monday after standing “in solidarity" with activists in the square.

“This country has a proud tradition of peaceful democratic protest. It is completely unacceptable to ban people from peaceful assembly,” she wrote on Twitter.

The London branch of Extinction Rebellion said: "Police are clearing peaceful protest in Trafalgar & Vauxhall. They are back-tracking on promises made &, MEPs say, in contravention of UK law, in the national square.

"This is an emergency, and an outrage. The police must respect the law. This is a democracy."