Large-scale protest held in central London by Extinction Rebellion

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Environmental activist organisation Extinction Rebellion supporters staged a major sit-in protest in the heart of London’s shopping district.

On Saturday morning, tens of thousands of people gathered outside Marble Arch with multicoloured flags depicting the group’s “extinction” sign while samba bands warmed up.

They then marched to Regent Street and Oxford Circus, where they sat down in the street, causing traffic congestion in central London, and demanded an end to fossil fuel investment.

The Metropolitan Police tweeted that a number of protesters in Oxford St & Regent St were sitting in the road, impeding traffic in both directions. Traffic reroutes were being implemented.

The majority of the demonstrators then marched to Trafalgar Square, causing traffic delays, according to the Metropolitan Police.

While a band of drummers played around the base of Nelson’s Column, the protesters sat down in the road on the outskirts of Whitehall and stopped traffic.

Extinction Rebellion, or XR, promised before Saturday’s protest that it would bring the capital to a standstill over the next week, using new methods developed in response to increased enforcement that curtailed the group’s attempts to disrupt protests last August.

Police vans and officers on horses guarded the periphery of the crowd in Hyde Park, but their presence was low-key. Around midday, the throng began marching through central London, creating roadblocks along the way.

On the fringes of the march, direct actions were planned against certain locations, but XR remained tight-lipped about what those targets were.

Protesters mostly meandered about in the morning, establishing affinity groups, greeting acquaintances they hadn’t seen since earlier activities, and taking advantage of the spring sunshine.

Nicky Goulianis, 33, of London, stood in the midst of the mob in a buggy with her nine-month-old daughter Clio. “All the reasons,” she said when asked why she had joined the demonstration.

She had been away from the UK for a while, but she had been enjoying the movement from afar, and she believed the turnout was inspirational. She had  been living in New York and had seen echoes of it there, so she was really looking forward to joining that day, Goulianis added.

She believes there was a need to take drastic measures. The oil and gas lobby, she thinks, does a wonderful job of convincing people that it’s all about individual consumption, but they need to change everything.