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Court sets aside two rooms a day for the next 19 weeks to deal with Extinction Rebellion protestors

A court has set aside two rooms a day for the next 19 weeks to deal with more than 1,000 Extinction Rebellion protestors.

The climate change activists brought central London to a standstill in April blocking both Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus for days. 

During the two week long protests, activists also glued themselves to trains and buildings, alongside staging a ‘die in’ at the Natural History Museum. 

Now, Westminster Magistrates’ Court is preparing to deal with the more than 1,000 people arrested during the protests which came to an end on April 26. 

So far 232 files of evidence have been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ahead of the court appearances.  

Climate change activists dance as demonstrators blocked the road at Oxford Circus in London in April

Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge in London on Easter Sunday

Extinction Rebellion demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge in London on Easter Sunday 

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests closed key routes through the capital and resulted in at least 750 arrests

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests closed key routes through the capital and resulted in at least 750 arrests

Police carry away a protester during the climate demonstration at Oxford Circus in April

Police carry away a protester during the climate demonstration at Oxford Circus in April

Police said in May they would push for all the 1,130 people arrested, including Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott, to face charges. 

But solicitor Raj Chada, from Hodge Jones and Allen, which represents around 300 of the protesters, said the prosecutions are a waste of money.

He said: ‘To prosecute 1,000 people for peaceful protests beggars belief.

‘At a time when more and more violent crimes aren’t being prosecuted the CPS has decided to waste taxpayers’s money by dragging all of those arrested from Extinction Rebellion in front of the courts.

‘Figures show that around nine per cent of crimes in the UK lead to a criminal charge, yet when it comes to peaceful protesters they are trying to charge 100 per cent.

‘The simple fact is that most of those protesters will get nothing more than a conditional discharge or fine.

‘How can this amount of court time and money be wasted on this? The priority should be to tackle the climate crisis that threatens us rather than the prosecution of peaceful protesters.’

Actress Emma Thompson joins climate protesters in Oxford Street on April 19

Actress Emma Thompson joins climate protesters in Oxford Street on April 19

Pink paper boats are seen as climate change activists continued to block the road at Oxford Circus in London

Pink paper boats are seen as climate change activists continued to block the road at Oxford Circus in London

Officers sat across from the pink boat in Oxford Circus in April

Officers sat across from the pink boat in Oxford Circus in April

Police reinforcements arrive to keep a watch over climate change activists on Waterloo Bridge in London

Police reinforcements arrive to keep a watch over climate change activists on Waterloo Bridge in London

Official figures for 2018 showed that 443,000 recorded crimes out of 4.6 million resulted in a criminal charge or summons in England and Wales, a proportion of around 9.6 per cent.

A CPS spokesman said: ‘We have received 232 files of evidence from the Metropolitan Police relating to the Extinction Rebellion protests in April.

‘The CPS is a demand-led organisation and we must review each case referred to us by the police.

‘The role of the CPS is to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute and if it is in the public interest to do so on the merits of each case.’

It is understood that most of the 232 cases under consideration involve an alleged failure to comply with an order for protesters to stick to an allocated area near Marble Arch to minimise disruption.      

The group was urging the Government to declare a climate emergency to avoid what it calls the ‘sixth mass extinction’ of species on earth. 

Police officers arrest and carry away a climate change activist from a demonstration blocking Waterloo Bridge in London

Police officers arrest and carry away a climate change activist from a demonstration blocking Waterloo Bridge in London

The group Extinction Rebellion called for a week of civil disobedience against what it says is the failure to tackle the causes of climate change

The group Extinction Rebellion called for a week of civil disobedience against what it says is the failure to tackle the causes of climate change

Extinction Rebellion protesters lying down inside the main hall of Natural History Museum

Extinction Rebellion protesters lying down inside the main hall of Natural History Museum

Westminster Magistrates' Court is preparing to deal with the more than 1,000 people arrested during the protests which came to an end on April 26

Westminster Magistrates’ Court is preparing to deal with the more than 1,000 people arrested during the protests which came to an end on April 26

The news comes as Extinction Rebellion threatens to cause major disruption right across the country next week as it called on activists to descend on five cities.  

The climate protest group announced it will hold ‘a series of beautiful and disruptive’ demonstrations in Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and London from Monday.

Organisers said ‘a thousand rebels’ were willing to risk arrest, while hundreds were prepared to block cities for a whole week if demands were not met. 

It said it would ‘return to block streets day after day creating open public spaces for creative resistance’ following action that brought London to a standstill in April.

The Metropolitan Police revealed in May how it had spent £7million dealing with the protests, with more than 1,130 people were arrested and 10,000 officers deployed.

Announcing its latest round of action, a statement on its website read: ‘Although Extinction Rebellion welcomed the UK Parliament’s declaration of a Climate and Environmental Emergency shortly after we raised the alarm during our Spring Rebellion, we are yet to see substantive action.

‘Today’s announcement by the Committee on Climate Change shows the situation is dire. We are not turning this boat around nearly fast enough.

‘People are coming together through a set of UK wide regional acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to demand the Government ACT NOW to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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