Who are Extinction Rebellion, which UK cities are they protesting in and what are their climate change demands?

EXTINCTION Rebellion protesters have blocked roads in city centres across the UK as police forces have warned about road closures affecting emergency services.

But who are the environmental protest group, what do they want and where are they in the UK? Here's what we know about the recent bout of protests.

Who are Extinction Rebellion and what are their climate change demands?

Extinction Rebellion describes itself as a non-violent direct action and civil disobedience group.

Eco warriors have demanded that the Government declares a climate emergency.

They want politicians to take urgent action on climate change and wildlife declines.

In particular, it wants the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to "zero by 2025" and do more to "remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases".

On Monday, April 15, the environment "rebels" launched a range of attention-grabbing tactics to gain headlines, and prompt politicians into taking action to "avoid irreversible climate change and ecological collapse".

The activists brought parts of busy London to a standstill with widespread demonstrations.

Organisers said on April 15: "The international rebellion begins and Extinction Rebellion will be bringing London to a standstill for up to two weeks.

"They will be blocking five of the city's busiest and most iconic locations in a non-violent, peaceful act of rebellion where they invite people to join them for several days of creative, artist-led resistance."

They've blocked routes around Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge since Monday.

Where are Extinction Rebellion protesting now?

On July 15, 2019, protesters launched a five-day "summer uprising" in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and London by placing five colourful boats to block the roads and bring traffic to a standstill.

Police have said the road closures could affect the emergency service's ability to respond to incidents.

They're calling for the government to declare a climate emergency.

The climate activists say they are staging a series of "creative acts of civil disobedience", blocking specific locations, bridges and roads.

In Glasgow, a 25-foot purple boat is being used to block the Trongate area of the city centre.

The protesters are targeting the financial district in Leeds to highlight the links between banking and the climate and ecological emergency.

Glasgow City Council said Trongate was closed to all eastbound traffic between Albion Street and High Street.

A large green boat has been set up on the grass in the Welsh capital outside Cardiff Castle as commuters suffered delays during rush hour this morning.

They also set up tents in front or Cardiff City Hall as the eco-warriors appeared to set up camp in a sign there will be more disruption in the coming days.

Exctinction Rebellion protesters have set up camp on Bristol Bridge with a pink boat as Avon and Somerset Police and traffic management used concrete blocks to close the road to traffic.

Chief Inspector Mark Runacres, an area commander at Avon and Somerset Police, said the force had to resort to cancelling officers' rest days to ensure there were "sufficient resources" during the protest.

A blue boat is parked in front of the Royal Courts of Justice in London as demonstrators sit in the road.

Protesters are calling on the Met Police to the drop cases against those arrested during the April protests

Each boat that has been unveiled is named after an environmental activist withe message "Act Now" on it.

Where were Extinction Rebellion protesting across London?

Scores of protesters gathered outside Parliament to get their message across to politicians returning from their Easter break.

Extinction Rebellion members assembled in Parliament Square on Tuesday at around noon as influential 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg was meeting party leaders in the House of Commons.

On Monday hundreds of protesters staged a "die-in" at London's Natural History Museum and held a party at Marble Arch.

They lay down underneath the famous blue whale skeleton in the middle of the museum.

Harry Potter star Emma Thompson, 60, joined demonstrators blocking Marble Arch, as eco warriors clock up their fifth day of protest.

She told Sky News that she was "proud and thrilled" to support the climate change activists on Good Friday.

Thompson yesterday blamed police for "wasting taxpayers' money" by tackling the Extinction Rebellion protests which have caused misery for Londoners.

Earlier, Dame Emma defended her decision to fly 5,400 miles to join the Extinction Rebellion eco-warriors who massed in Central London on what was the fifth day of protests yesterday.

She jetted business-class from LA and arrived at Heathrow on Wednesday to add her to support to the climate-change demonstrations crippling the capital.

A group of between 15 and 20 people, many of whom are aged under 17, also staged a climate change protest at Heathrow Airport.

They unfurled a banner reading "are we the last generation".

More than 500 protesters had been arrested by Thursday night as activists continued to ignore orders to leave roadblocks at Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square.

A fuming Scotland Yard said in a statement: "The serious disruption the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations are causing to people in central London and beyond is unacceptable and we completely understand the concern it is causing to those who are disrupted by it."

The force added that, on Thursday, April 18, it had "more than 1,000 officers on the streets policing the demonstrations.

"This is putting a strain on the Met and we have now asked officers on the boroughs to work 12-hour shifts.

"We have cancelled rest days and our Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF) have had their leave cancelled."

Scotland Yard said there are, "currently illegal protests at Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square – all those locations have hundreds of protesters demonstrating.

"In addition, we have legal protests at Marble Arch, which is the designated place that anyone wanting to protest should attend.

"We also have a number of smaller groups carrying out ad hoc protests across central London, blocking roads and bridges for perhaps five or ten minutes at a time.

"There is a boat that we believe to be bolted to the ground in Oxford Circus and two large trucks that have been disabled and have protesters either on top or glued to."

Extinction Rebellion blocked bridges and busy thoroughfares at peak times, such as Oxford Circus and Marble Arch, along with gluing themselves to a DLR train and the entrance doors of Shell headquarters in the capital.

The demonstrations across Parliament Square, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus have already disrupted life for more than half a million people since they started on Monday, April 15.

And it has meant 55 bus routes had to close.

Four protesters glued and chained themselves under a lorry parked on Waterloo Bridge.

Extinction Rebellion supporters also parked a pink boat in the centre of Oxford Circus on Monday.

On Tuesday, April 16, a pair of climate change protesters were camped out on a glass balcony above the entrance to Shell's HQ in London.

Campaigners glued themselves to the entrance of the Shell building, and allegedly smashed glass in a bid to force the Government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.

On Wednesday, April 17, Transport for London (TfL) tweeted that "bus routes which usually serve central London are, again, diverted/curtailed due to an ongoing protest which is blocking several roads".

They also glued themselves outside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's house.

Part of Oxford Street continued to be closed off to vehicles on Thursday, April 18, with the presence of the large pink boat – from which a DJ has been playing music to throngs of supporters – obstructing the main junction with Regent Street.

A mile west, a community of around 100 tents were put up at Marble Arch.

On Monday, the Met Police imposed a condition under the Public Order Act restricting their protests to Marble Arch for 24 hours, from 6.55pm.

This condition has since been extended for a further three days, and expires at 9.10pm on Friday, April 19.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has urged police to use the "full force of the law" to deal with illegal XR demonstrations as they enter a fifth day.

Extinction Rebellion then threatened to shut down Heathrow Airport for 10 days using drones if the Government does not cancel a planned expansion.

The environmental group, which brought London to a standstill for two weeks in April, said it will first stage a one-day protest on June 18.

It said if plans to expand Heathrow are not immediately scrapped, the 10-day demonstration would begin on July 1.

Holidaymakers were being given advance notice to "change travel plans", the group added.

It is understood the plans to use drones are contained in a document shared between members of the group.

Heathrow said the plan was "reckless" and could "endanger lives".

Several hours after the demonstration was announced on Friday, aviation minister Baroness Vere issued a stark warning that culprits will face "the full force of the law".

The Metropolitan Police has also said it will develop "strong plans" to counter the group.


Have there been any arrests?

The BBC said the group is "trying to get as many people arrested as possible".

By Good Friday, April 19, the fifth day of disruption, the police had made more than 500 arrests.

Extinction Rebellion's actions have prompted criticism, with people slamming its supporters for being a huge drain upon police time, disrupting public transport, preventing commuters from getting to and from work – not to mention impacting upon businesses and retailers.

The New West End Company said that after days of "gridlock, businesses have been deeply concerned by the additional pressures" brought upon businesses and retailers in the West End.

A spokesperson said: "We have called on the Mayor and the Met Police to take control and enable companies and their employees to get back to business as usual ahead of the bank holiday weekend."

Three members of the group denied obstructing a railway by gluing themselves to trains during the protests.

Two men and a woman appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on May 16 and were bailed ahead of trial.

Cathy Eastburn, 51, of Lambeth, south London, Mark Ovland, 35, of Somerton, Somerset, and Luke Watson, 29, of Manuden in Essex, were charged after the DLR protest.

A date is yet to be set.

What was the criticism aimed at police?

Met Police Commander Jane Connors said she was "disappointed" by a video appearing to show officers dancing with protesters.

Cops were caught on camera raving and skateboarding with Extinction Rebellion protesters.

She said: "I'm disappointed by the video and the unacceptable behaviour of the officers in it.

"We expect our officers to engage with protesters but clearly their actions fall short of the tone of the policing operation at a time when people are frustrated at the actions of the protesters.

"We will be reminding officers of their responsibilities and expectations in policing this operation – however the majority of officers have been working long hours and I am grateful to them for their continued commitment."

Scotland Yard said enquiries are being made to identify the police officers involved.



Why did activists protest naked in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate?

On April 1, 2019, 11 eco warriors stripped down to their underpants in the House of Commons public gallery while MPs were debating Brexit alternatives on the floor of the Chamber below.

Some had slogans including "SOS" and "stop wasting time" written on their semi-naked bodies.

They pressed themselves up against the glass screen of a public gallery overlooking the Chamber.

Extinction Rebellion said the protest was an attempt "to draw politicians' attention to the climate and ecological crisis".

Speaker of the House, John Bercow, told politicians to "proceed" despite the disturbance.

The activists' high-profile protest prompted Peter Kyle, MP for Hove, to refer to "the bottom line", the "naked truth" and "cheeky intervention" as he continued speaking about the Brexit "impasse".

Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford), meanwhile, pointed out there were "noted naturists on these Benches.

"It has long been a thoroughly British trait to be able to ignore pointless nakedness, and I trust that the House will now be able to return to the issue we are discussing."

Scotland Yard said officers were sent in during an attempt to "negotiate" with the activists.

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Nuala Gathercole-Lam, an Extinction Rebellion member from Haringey in north London, later told the Press Association: "It's a crazy thing to do but the situation is crazy – there is no Brexit on a dead planet."

The incident lasted around 25 minutes, as some protesters had glued their hands to the glass.

They had to be physically removed by police, who later said 12 people had been arrested for "outraging public decency".

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