18 Apr 19
The Irish Sun
AROUND 100 cops piled into Oxford Circus this afternoon to arrest Extinction Rebellion eco-warriors after a video of officers dancing with protesters sparked bosses’ fury.
The large squad of officers turned up at one of the demonstrator strongholds in central London to attempt to finally move them on, following days of chaos and criticism.
Officers carrying a woman away from the protest at Oxford Circus in central London today
Scores of officers have been sent to deal with the endless disruption
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said over 480 people have been arrested in connection with the protests so far
Activists wearing the symbol of Extinction Rebellion – the group plan on disrupting travel at Heathrow tomorrow
But hopes of a breakthrough in the stand-off were dashed when a fresh crowd of eco-warriors led by a samba band and drummers arrived.
Cops were slammed after they had been ordered to arrest the protesters – but were instead been filmed dad dancing and pumping their fists in the air as campaigners chant “we love you” last night.
Arrests at Oxford Circus and other locations where the campaigners have caused blockades have been taking place throughout the week – but cops have been criticised for being “too soft” and allowing it to continue for a fourth day.
Now, a huge swarm of officers have arrived and immediately set to work arresting more protesters.
Metropolitan Police Commander Jane Connors said today: “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.”
REST DAYS AXED
The Met said it had cancelled officers’ rest days and leave over the Easter weekend in order to deal with the disruption, as well as violent crime.
The force said: “Throughout the course of today, Thursday, 18 April, we will have 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.
“This allows us to free up significant numbers of officers whilst responding to local policing. We would also like to reassure people that we have ring-fenced the VCTF so we retain the capacity to deal with any unrelated violent incidents.
“However, the protesters need to understand that their demonstration is meaning officers are being diverted away from their core local duties that help keep London safe and that this will have implications in the weeks and months beyond this protest as officers take back leave and the cost of overtime.”
Cops had been criticised over their failure to stop the illegal protest as it entered its fourth day with activists now blocking Waterloo Bridge, Vauxhall Bridge, Oxford Circus and Parliament Square.
One annoyed Londoner tweeted: “Another stabbing death in London yesterday, people late for hospital appointments and work, meanwhile police are dancing in the street with ‘eco-warriors’. Khan and Dick should be ashamed.”
‘OUR GREAT CITY IS BEING HELD TO RANSOM’
Another added: “As a recently retired cop who joined in 87. Ffs man up (if I can say that) we need to return to a police force.
“And stop dancing, painting faces etc, it’s bad enough that police do this at carnivals etc, enforce the law and stop this s****.”
The protest has already disrupted the lives of more than 500,000 hard-working Londoners and cost businesses £12million and counting – with Extinction Rebellion threatening to keep it going for two more weeks.
Tory MP Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, told the Daily Mail: “Not absolutely convinced that our excellent Metropolitan Police are at present maintaining the Queen’s Peace on the streets of London.
“Absolutely unacceptable that our great city is being held to ransom.”
Over 480 arrests have been made since Extinction Rebellion began its mass protest – with three people now charged, British Transport Police confirmed this morning.
Cathy Eastburn, 51, Mark Ovland, 35, and Luke Watson, 29, denied alleged involvement in obstructing trains at Canary Wharf station yesterday morning when appearing before magistrates today.
They were remanded in custody, and if convicted they could face up to two years in prison.
Many of those arrested said they were given a cup of tea and let out a few hours later.
One person wrote: “As long as the police are enjoying themselves, that’s great. It’s not like there’s a knife crime problem or any worries about terrorism. Good to see them having fun.”
And another posting: “Tax payers money to rave. Should be steaming in with big sticks and water cannons.”
Some were released within just a few hours without any charge as busy police cells were reportedly operating a one-in-one-out policy.
Cops have complained they are overworked and struggling to stem the bloodshed and knife crime blighting the capital in recent months.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has blamed police numbers and cuts for the rise in violence, saying: “We have fewer police. They are cancelling their rest days, working overtime, overstretched and under-resourced. It’s not sustainable.”
But disrupted commuters and politicians criticising police for being “too soft” with protesters are likely to raise an eyebrow at seeing officers joining in with dancing and skateboarding.
The police’s softly, softly approach was in evidence as eco-warrior Philippa Davey laid down in Parliament Square.
A female officer politely told the grey-haired activist: “I’ll give you another few minutes to think about it.”
Philippa, 63, said as she was threatened with arrest: “We’ve had a lovely day and these police have been marvellous looking after us.”
A YouGov poll suggests public opinion is swinging against the protests, with 53 per cent saying they opposed them.
LONDON GRIPPED BY PROTESTERS
Part of Oxford Street is still closed off to vehicles today, with a 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 remain at Marble Arch, as a handful of protesters block traffic on one carriageway of Vauxhall Bridge Road, a short distance from Parliament Square, forcing some motorcyclists and cyclists to cross onto the opposite carriageway towards oncoming traffic.
An ice cream van has moved in to take advantage of potential customers, while swarms of climate protesters swelled on Waterloo Bridge
Commuters walking across the bridge, completely closed to traffic, were forced to weave between crowds of demonstrators.
A green sign with the message “Rebel For Life” has been unfurled across the width of the road.
Tents have also been set up alongside rows of potted plants which the activists have lined up along the road.
Extinction Rebellion says its protests could go on for weeks if its demands aren’t met
They immediately started arresting demonstrators as they sat in the middle of the famous shopping street
Cops were seen joining in with dancing as the protesters chanted ‘we love you’
Cops were caught skateboarding on Waterloo Bridge as protesters shut down London
One man resisted being arrested and removed by police officers at Oxford Circus
A large group of people have set up camp in the middle of Oxford Circus in central London
Protesters have now blocked off Vauxhall Bridge, as commuters attempted to travel across in their vehicles
Some held placards that said ‘I’m sorry’ as they blocked traffic on day four of the protest
Protesters spoke to the drivers of the vehicles they have blocked from Vauxhall Bridge
Demonstrators have shut down Vauxhall Bridge this morning
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators block Vauxhall Bridge in London
It comes as hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested for the disruption across the city
Officers were seen dancing at Oxford Circus, after being criticised for being ‘too soft’ on the protesters
Cops joined in with the dancing in central London last night
London businesses and commuters have spoken of their frustration at the protests.
New West End Company, which represents retailers in London’s West End, estimates it has lost £12m in sales over the last two days when demonstrations.
Jace Tyrell, chief executive of the New West End Company, told Sky News the protest had brought a feeling of “intimidation” to the West End shopping district and, on average, caused a 25 per cent drop in spending in the area, with £12 million less spent on Tuesday.
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He warned the cost could rise to the hundreds of millions if Oxford Circus and Marble Arch stations are not opened “pretty quickly”.
He added: “What we would like to see is the mayor and the Met to find a more appropriate location in central London for the protesters to continue their peaceful protest but not hold the West End to ransom.
“West End businesses fully support the right to protest but actually this is causing significant damage to our area.”
[boxout headline=”The Sun Says”]IT TOOK the cops long enough to properly deal with the climate loons who have brought the capital to a standstill.
For days we’ve had to watch them standing idly by, barely lifting a finger as commuters faced chaos.
And we’ve had to watch them whizzing around on protesters’ skateboards and dad-dancing to disco tracks.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, not one to take responsibility if he can palm it off elsewhere, blames Government “cuts” for the Met Police’s failure to get a grip.
It wasn’t “cuts” that meant a copper was making DJ requests rather than doing his job, though, was it?
Nor do the Met’s apparent financial troubles stop it employing 900 “specialist hate crime investigators”.
There are now warnings that the protesters will try to bring Heathrow to a standstill — on Good Friday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Considering the past few days, we wouldn’t be surprised if the police invite them on to the runway for a picnic.
Everybody has a right to protest, but this farce has dragged on long beyond anything remotely appropriate.
A Tory MP has called our inability to clear the demonstrators a national embarrassment.
Protesters have this morning closed off Vauxhall Bridge on the fourth day of the campaign
Parliament Square is still blocked off by protesters as they demand the Environment Secretary speaks to them
A man stands with his hand stuck to a train as part of the protests
The pair were pulled from the top of the DLR train after allegedly gluing their hands to the roof
Climate change protesters practice yoga on Waterloo Bridge
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[bc_video video_id=”6026828844001″ account_id=”5067014667001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” width=”100%” height=”100%” caption=”Extinction Rebellion protest organiser compares youth activists to suffragettes and civil rights campaigners “]
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