There were no more than 50 people, and some of those were holding a banner on the opposite side of the road. Police arrived in large numbers – at least 30, and announced that the GLA had issued instructions this weekend to disperse any gatherings of more than 30 people.
As can be seen in the film, the police liaison officers assigned to the action seemed to be making up rules as they went along. Real Media contacted the GLA for comment on the claims of the police that they were following new orders, and a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said:
“This is simply not true. Operational policing decisions are a matter for the Metropolitan Police and are taken independently of the Mayor. The Mayor shares the concerns about the need for urgent action to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. However, he is clear that Londoners have made huge sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we can’t risk undermining that – so has asked protestors to make their voices heard in another way, safely.”
We asked the Met for comment, but they were unable to respond in time for publication.
That afternoon, other protests were also closed down by police using Coronavirus regulations, including a planned Extinction Rebellion march and gathering.
Following the direct action disrupting Murdoch newspapers on Friday night, the Home Secretary has vowed to “crack down on disruptive protests”.
While carbon emissions continue to rise, fossil-fuel companies continue to receive massive subsidies, and scientists continue to issue stark warnings of catastrophic dangers to humanity, protest, civil disobedience and disruption of ‘business as usual’ seem to be the only route to survival.