Hundreds of activists gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park on Saturday morning before marching into the center of the city.
The Metropolitan Police said protesters initially blocked “traffic in both directions” but later said only the “westbound carriageway on Oxford St. remains closed between Great Portland St. and Regent St and “almost all of the protesters are now in Trafalgar Sq”.
After starting the sit-in just after 2pm, the demonstrators were on the move again around 45 minutes later, heading into the city center.
Activist Verel Rodrigues, 27, a mechanical engineer from Bristol, said: “We are currently in a dire situation and we are appealing to the government to stop investing in fossil fuels.
“We have no choice. We are sorry to be causing this inconvenience but we don’t have any other choice.
“If an alarm is ringing because your house is on fire, you don’t get p *** ed off at the fire alarm. It is trying to save you and we are trying to raise the alarm of what is about to come. “
It comes as the climate activists say they would bring their “most disruptive protest yet” to the streets of London.
The environmental protest group, which encourages supporters to cause disruption through non-violent civil disobedience, has returned to the capital with new tactics it claims will “create the most roadblocks we ever have”.
The activists gathered in Hyde Park at 10am in preparation for an “unstoppable rebellion” that would “facilitate a mass flood of people to grind the capital to a halt”.
“We will return to the streets day after day until our immediate demand – for the UK government to immediately end all new fossil fuel investments – is met,” the group said in a recent statement. It has announced plans for over a week of action in London.
However, the Met Police warned it is “ready to consider using police powers should the protest result in serious disruption or involve anyone committing criminal offenses”.
The force said it has specialist teams on standby ready to “respond to any protesters who lock or glue themselves to street furniture or complicated structures, should that be necessary”.
Protester Sunita Ramani, 23, from Bristol, who works in environmental communications, said the action was justified.
“It’s absolutely not our intention to annoy people and disrupt their lives but looking throughout history civil disobedience has proven to be the most successful way that people are able to make movements like this successful,” she said.
“We are doing this on behalf of everyone who deserves to have a liveable, justice-filled future.”
The latest strike action comes after London’s Tower Bridge was closed for several hours on Friday following disruption caused by the group.
POLICE WERE CALLED TO THE BRIDGE AT AFTIRD 7.30AM AFTMARD A BANNERER THAT READ “END FOSIL FULLS NOW”. The demonstrators suspended themselves from the bridge.
Two men were later taken away by police.
Angry commuters voiced their disgust. One hospital worker branded the group “selfish” for delaying him getting to work.
Ben Hersh, 24, an office worker who regularly uses the bridge to get to work, said the protesters should “grow up” and “stop taking aim at regular people”.
“I know that climate issues are important, but why are we always targeted?” he said
“They need to grow up, stop doing stupid stunts, stop taking aim at regular people and maybe more people would do things to help them and the environment.”
Commander Ade Adelekan, from the Met Police, said on Saturday: “Extinction Rebellion have made their intentions clear in their public announcements that they plan to hold ‘mass action’ and block areas of London for as long as possible to draw attention to their cause. .
“Everyone has the right to protest, and the public understands that protest will often result in a degree of disruption. However, the rights of protestors have to be balanced against the rights of the wider public, businesses and community.
“We have a comprehensive policing plan, together with colleagues from the City of London Police, ready to consider using police powers should the protest result in serious disruption or involve anyone committing criminal offenses. Our plan includes specialist teams on standby to respond to any protesters who lock or glue themselves to street furniture or complicated structures, should that be necessary.
“We have been in contact with the organizers in the run up to their event, and will continue to engage with them throughout the period, in an effort to avoid serious disruption to London’s communities.”
Since 2018, XR has staged four extended campaigns of disruptive protest in London, calling for the government to take action on the climate and biodiversity crises.
XR activists are hoping its new strategy will cause major disruption.