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London: Extinction Rebellion brings Oxford Circus to a standstill

Extinction Rebellion brings Oxford Street to a standstill in'most disruptive protest yet'

Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion activists brought Oxford Circus to a standstill on Saturday (Image: Getty Images/PA)

Extinction Rebellion activists have brought down Oxford Street and Regent Street with a sit-in protest.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Speakers’ Corner near Hyde Park on Saturday morning before marching to the West End where they crossed Oxford Circus.

The large crowd blocked the intersection and the famous shopping streets it connects, chanting “save our planet” and “whose streets, our streets”.

They stood in front of buses and waved banners with the inscriptions “I am here for nature and the children”, “Navel gaze into the catastrophe” and “Life on earth is dying”.

Extinction Rebellion billed the protest as part of “the latest push in the plan to end fossil fuels”.

The group has warned that measures to blockade “areas of the city for as long as possible” are planned each day for a week or more.

The Metropolitan Police said protesters disrupted traffic on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

The force tweeted: “A number of protesters on Oxford Street and Regent Street are sitting in the street blocking traffic in both directions. Traffic diversions will be set up.’

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Activists march down Oxford Street during a demonstration by climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion in London April 9, 2022, during a series of actions aimed at halting the fossil fuel economy. - Climate protesters from Extinction Rebellion have recently staged several protests at oil terminals and refineries across the UK and held a large demonstration at a facility near Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Protesters gathered in Speaker’s Corner before marching to Oxford Circus (Image: Tolga Akmen / AFP)

Activists march down Oxford Street during a demonstration by climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion in London April 9, 2022, during a series of actions aimed at halting the fossil fuel economy. - Climate protesters from Extinction Rebellion have recently staged several protests at oil terminals and refineries across the UK and held a large demonstration at a facility near Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Activists marched along Oxford Street with banners and chants (Image: Tolga Akmen / AFP)

Extinction Rebellion activists demonstrate on Oxford Street in central London. Picture date: Saturday April 9, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story PROTEST Climate. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Extinction Rebellion has warned it has planned actions every day for a week (Image: PA)

Mechanical engineer Verel Rodrigues, 27, from Bristol, who was among the crowd, said: “We are in a dire situation at the moment and are calling on the government to stop investing in fossil fuels.

‘We have no choice. We are sorry to cause this inconvenience, but we have no other choice.

“If an alarm goes off because your house is on fire, don’t fret about the fire alarm.

“It’s trying to save you and we’re trying to sound the alarm for what’s to come.”

Extinction Rebellion activists demonstrate on Oxford Street in central London. Picture date: Saturday April 9, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story PROTEST Climate. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Some activists were seen eating their lunch in the sun (Image: PA)

Extinction Rebellion activists demonstrate near Marble Arch in central London. Picture date: Saturday April 9, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story PROTEST Climate. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Extinction Rebellion protesters blocked buses near Marble Arch (Image: PA)

A member of the public, identified only as Steve C, 50, from Ealing, west London, said Extinction Rebellion’s tactics had been “obsessive”.

“The tactic has given the Conservative Party an excuse to reduce and remove all of our protest rights,” he said.

“They have repeatedly blocked roads on a daily basis, whether they are small or large numbers. They’ve stopped people from taking their children to school, they’ve stopped people from going to work and going to hospital appointments.

“It’s just unacceptable.”

Steve said the protesters, who he described as the “most undiversified crowd you’ve ever seen in London”, were made up of “good-natured white middle-class liberals who do not represent the city of London”.

Activists sit in the street at Oxford Circus during a demonstration by protest group Extinction Rebellion against climate change April 9, 2022 in London, during a series of actions aimed at halting the fossil fuel economy. - Climate protesters from Extinction Rebellion have recently staged several protests at oil terminals and refineries across the UK and held a large demonstration at a facility near Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Extinction Rebellion billed the protest as part of “the latest push in the plan to end fossil fuels” (Image: AFP via Getty Images).

An activist, wearing a mask depicting Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, holds a placard during a demonstration by protest group Extinction Rebellion against climate change in London April 9, 2022, during a series of actions aimed at helping the economy with to stop fossil fuels. - Climate protesters from Extinction Rebellion have recently staged several protests at oil terminals and refineries across the UK and held a large demonstration at a facility near Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Just one of the many placards seen at the protest (Image: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

Protester Sunita Ramani, 23, from Bristol, who works in environmental communications, said the action was justified and not meant to “annoy people”.

“It is absolutely not our intention to upset people and disrupt their lives, but throughout history civil disobedience has proven to be the most successful way people can make movements like this successful,” she said.

“We do this on behalf of all who deserve to have a future worth living and filled with justice.”

After the sit-in began just after 2 p.m., the protesters were back on their way downtown about 45 minutes later.

Extinction Rebellion has promised that its “disruption won’t stop until the fossil fuel economy comes to an end,” according to a statement on its website.

Extinction Rebellion climate activists take part in a demonstration at Oxford Circus in London, Britain, on April 9, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

After the sit-in began shortly after 2 p.m., the demonstrators were back on the road around 45 minutes later (Image: Reuters)

Extinction Rebellion climate activists carry placards and a banner as they take part in a demonstration in London, Britain, April 9, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Many banners and placards were seen at the protest (Image: Reuters)

Yesterday, two protesters from the movement closed Tower Bridge by rappelling down the sides of the London landmark and unfurling a giant banner that read ‘End Fossil Fuels Now’.

The bridge, a major artery across the River Thames, was closed to vehicles, resulting in long queues.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the protest was “counterproductive”, adding that the protesters needed to win over public opinion while putting pressure on the government.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/04/09/london-extinction-rebellion-bring-oxford-circus-to-standstill-16437062/ London: Extinction Rebellion brings Oxford Circus to a standstill

Justin Scacco

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