Extinction Rebellion blocks London bridges on second day of protests

Met Police say rallies have shut bridges with protesters allowing emergency services only to cross

Extinction Rebellion protesters block Lambeth Bridge as part of their Spring 2022 UK Action on April 10 in London. Getty
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Extinction Rebellion activists are staging sit-down protests in central London for a second day, blocking two bridges to demand an end to the fossil fuel economy.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park on Sunday morning before marching into the city centre and splitting up to “occupy” Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, where they stopped vehicles crossing.

Crowds sat in the middle of the road, waving multicoloured flags bearing the group’s “extinction” symbol and placards that read “There is no planet B” and “We want to live”, and listened to music and speakers in sunny weather.

The Metropolitan Police said the protests have shut down the bridges, which are major traffic arteries across the Thames.

“There are multiple protests taking place across London today," the force tweeted. “At the moment Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges are currently closed due to a protest.

“We are working with our partners to reduce the disruption to Londoners.”

But demonstrators allowed ambulances and fire engines to cross, with organisers parting the crowd by shouting “blue light”.

Activist and student Kiri Ley, 21, from Birmingham, said the group was occupying the capital peacefully to try to force the government into change when nothing else had worked.

“I know that very often people will question our tactics about disruption, for example to ordinary people, stuff like roadblocks, like gluing on, locking on, and so on," Ms Ley said.

“What I would ask people, if you make that criticism, is what actually do you suggest that we do? We tried all the other methods.

"We’ve written letters, we’ve marched, we’ve spoken to our MPs, we’ve done literally everything we can and time and time again we see them doing completely the opposite of what the scientific evidence says.

"And this is what is left to us, really. We do it because we know it works.”

Earlier, campaigners spray painted red hands outside the London corporate offices of oilfield services company Schlumberger.

It comes a day after about 8,000 protesters flooded the streets of London, according to Extinction Rebellion.

On the first day of mass action on Saturday, they blockaded roads around Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square.

Extinction Rebellion has vowed to “block areas of the city for as long as possible” every day for at least a week, and on the next three weekends.

The activist group plans to recruit new “rebels” and hold training in non-violent action and resistance tactics in Hyde Park in the mornings before marching into the city centre “en masse”, it said on its website.

“Our disruption will not stop until the fossil fuel economy comes to an end,” it said.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said that some Extinction Rebellion protests are counter-productive, but their disruptive actions are the “only way that people feel they can make their voices heard”.

“I think that being on the streets of London has been shown to be a way of capturing people’s imaginations. People have joined those protests who have never protested before," she told BBC1.

“The International Energy Agency says that, the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report says that and yet this government and this energy strategy … is foreseeing getting out even more oil and gas from the North Sea.

"That is frankly immoral and the UN general secretary said that is frankly both morally and economically mad.”

On Friday, two Extinction Rebellion protesters shut down Tower Bridge during the morning rush hour by abseiling off the sides of the landmark.

Activists from the group, also known as XR and Just Stop Oil, have also been blocking access to oil terminals for 10 days, demanding that the government stops new oil and gas projects.

They disrupted supplies from three oil terminals in Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and Essex on Sunday, Just Stop Oil said.

Updated: April 10, 2022, 10:06 PM
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