Police Want to Charge 1,100 Climate Activists for ‘Extinction Rebellion’ Disruption

emma thompson
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
JOE MARKHAM

Police are looking to charge more than 1,100 people who were arrested during last month’s “Extinction Rebellion” climate protests, a senior officer has said.

During the protests, activists laid down in the middle of busy public roads, glued themselves to the walls of financial institutions such as the London Stock Exchange, and even attempted to disrupt flights from Heathrow airport.

The protests also saw actress Emma Thompson fly 5,400 miles from America, using 1.67 tonnes of CO2 in the process, to join in the protests and recite a poem called ‘Mother Earth is Not Your Slut’.

The demonstrations lasted for 10 days in total and required a police presence of 10,000. It is estimated this cost the police force £7.5 million, which is more than half the money assigned by London mayor Sadiq Khan to assist with extra policing in the capital.

In an official briefing on Friday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor announced that the police would be looking to charge all those arrested in the protests in order to deter others from similar action in the future.

He said: “We have charged over 70. All the others are currently under investigation and we have got a dedicated unit of around 30 officers who are investigating those offences.

“It is our anticipation that we are putting all of those to the [Crown Prosecution Service] for decisions.”

Mr Taylor called for stronger punishments for those who break the law, saying, “I’m not saying going to jail, but we would like to see consequences for any activity at these events that is unlawful.”

“Protest is not illegal. There is nothing unlawful about protest,” he explained, but added that “the activity of some individuals at a protest can be unlawful.”

“What we are saying is at the moment there doesn’t seem to be much of a criminal deterrent for doing that and therefore, it doesn’t legitimise it but it does make it easy for that unlawful activity to take place. And what we would like to see is consequence, where the law is clearly broken and it goes beyond what is reasonable and a legitimate aim for a protest, for that to be recognised and for appropriate sanctions.”

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