Animal rights activists from an Extinction Rebellion splinter group have scaled a British government building to unfurl a banner reading “Invest in a plant-based future”, demanding the Britain convert to veganism and end subsidies for animal agriculture which they claim “is killing our planet”.
Four activists from Animal Rebellion — an offshoot of the eco-fanatic Extinction Rebellion (XR) organisation which was co-founded by several activists including former Green Party candidate Tamsin Omond and Roger Hallam, who went on to establish Insulate Britain, scaled the building housing the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Marsham Street, Westminster, London, with ropes, ladders, and harnesses at around 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
They say that they plan to stay there “indefinitely” or until Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells other world leaders descending on Scotland for the COP26 climate summit this week to end subsidies for animal farming including dairy, meat, and fishing, according to The Telegraph.
Animal Rebellion spokesman Nathan McGovern said: “Our protesters climbed the building in the early hours of this morning to send a clear message that we want an end to support for animal agriculture which is killing our planet.”
“We will see what the situation with the police is, but the plan is to stay in place indefinitely and this will remain a peaceful protest,” he added.
One protester told Sky News: “Ahead of COP26, we are calling for — no, demanding — that the world wake up and switch to a fully plant-based diet.”
Police arrived on the scene shortly after 6 a.m. with the ambulance and fire services also in attendance, but no arrests have been made.
It reportedly took the activists two and a half hours to climb the building’s facade, with police talking to the protesters just before 9 a.m. via megaphone asking them to come down.
Governmental officials were reportedly shocked to see police and fire crews who “just stood around watching” as the activists scaled the Marsham Street building.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. Just because they have a banner saying ‘Go Vegan’ doesn’t mean they don’t have malicious intent,” the official told the Daily Mail.
The Metropolitan Police Service appeared offended at the criticism coming from several quarters that its officers were “just standing watching”, claiming that such observations were “not a fair reflection of events”.
“The risks involved mean we must take careful precautions which will allow the safe removal of those at height. We know and appreciate this takes time, but this is necessary,” Scotland Yard suggested.
“Our assessment at Marsham Street continues. Our specialist units are on scene and it is important we give them the time to make assessments and develop a safe plan. We will share further updates in due course.”