After a week of widespread climate protests and nearly 1500 arrests in London, the Metropolitan Police issued a ‘Section 14’ blanket ban beginning at 9pm on Monday evening 14th October. This followed a day of action during which Extinction Rebellion targeted the financial sector.
Despite the police announcement, the lawfulness of which will be challenged in the High Court next week, a group of more than 20 protesters stopped traffic entering the Oxford Circus junction on Friday morning and swiftly built a bamboo tripod structure while small groups locked hands through metal pipes round the base of the tripod and at the entrances to the junction. Two men sat atop the lower pyramids and a dead tree hung from the centre of the structure.
As word got out, they were joined by hundreds of supporters and around 80 police officers who then called in specialist cutting and climbing teams to try to clear the blockade.
XR facilitators trained in non-violence and de-escalation techniques worked amongst onlookers to explain why the disruption was being caused, and hundreds of leaflets were given to shoppers and shop and office staff.
It took more than two hours for police to cut through all the lock-ons, and then a cherry-picker lorry was used to pluck the two men from high on the tripod structure. In all there were more than a dozen arrests. By the end of the last day of current international Autumn Uprising actions, the total number of arrests in the UK alone rose to more than 1800, although fewer than 200 have been actually charged.