An Extinction Rebellion activist wearing a ‘Boris Johnson’ blonde wig has climbed the scaffolding surrounding the Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben and unfurled an XR banner.
In a significant security breach, tree surgeon Ben Atkinson, 43, evaded the police officers who patrol the Parliamentary estate and began a daring freeclimb of the structure shortly before 4pm.
He climbed approximately sixty to eighty feet up the structure and walked out along a scaffold gantry at the height of the roof of the Palace of Westminster which abuts the clock tower.
Once at the edge of the scaffolding he unfurled a rainbow-coloured XR banner. The eco-protest group said the act was intended to highligh Government inaction on the ‘climate and ecological emergency’.
Police climbers are getting ready to climb up after the protester, donning helmets and preparing harnesses at the bottom of the tower.
His antics began just minutes after police cordoned off an area in Whitehall after a suspicious package was reported and deployed a bomb disposal robot to examine the object.
In a significant security breach, tree surgeon Ben Atkinson, 43, evaded the police officers who patrol the Parliamentary estate and began a daring freeclimb of the structure shortly before 4pm
Tree surgeon Ben Atkinson, 43, pictured unfurling a banner having climbed a considerable way up the clock tower
Elsewhere in the city Extinction Rebellion’s fortnight of demonstrations dragged on today but only a handful of the group’s diehards showed up to occupy one of the capital’s busiest road junctions.
The eco-activists have set up a wooden pyramid structure at the junction of Oxford Street and Regent’s Street, as police, whose resources have been stretched by two weeks of stunts, moved in.
The small group of activists who had assembled sent out tweets pleading for reinforcements as their numbers dwindled, coming 24 hours after violent scenes during a protest on the Tube dented their appeal.
The demo was just a shadow of the April chaos, when actress Emma Thompson joined hundreds of activists on a pink boat parked in Oxford Circus, which they occupied for days.
This latest stunt saw buses, many of which are made to reduce emissions, cancelled or rerouted, causing delays for workers.
Extinction Rebellion this afternoon are marching through Westminster, and are staging a sit in out the front of Downing Street. They are also carrying out a ‘red handed’ protest which will see it spray-paint handprints on landmarks.
Extinction Rebellion took over Oxford Street today as their fortnight of stunts ground on, testing Londoners’ patience
Activists built a wooden structure at the junction of Oxford Street and Regent’s Street, forced police to move in en masse
A JCB with a crane was brought in this morning to try and remove some of the protesters on the wooden structure
A protesters is removed by police at Oxford Circus, London, during an Extinction Rebellion climate change protest
Police quickly shut down the area as they move to dismantle the structure without hurting those tied to it
The group, whose cause suffered a setback when an activists resorted to violence yesterday, admitted they were low on numbers
Yesterday commuters sick of delays and mayhem took steps to arrest demonstrators themselves at Canning Town tube station. The group later apologised over the violence, and scaled down a planned ‘shutdown’ of Gatwick Airport, but still continued their disruption this morning.
Responses from many of Twitter showed that public sympathy with the group has run dry. Many Londoners branded today’s action ‘pointless’ and counter-productive.
Abby Deveney wrote: ‘Blocking Oxford Circus halts buses used by real people … people with buggies, people with walking sticks, people with invisible mobility issues, yeah, those kind of people. This strategy is not helpful’
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘The extinction rebellion lot made me late to work. They really blocked Oxford Street (where regular cars are already banned) and just disrupted public transport. They need to work on their tactics.’
A protester sits on top of a bamboo structure built to block the road at Oxford Circus, London, during an Extinction Rebellion climate change protest
One protester sits on top of a pyramid structure at the junction of Oxford Circus and Regent Street
There were only a handful of Extinction Rebellion protestors demonstrating today, blocking off one of the capital’s busiest junctions
Robert Hook wrote: ‘A fairly pointless protest indeed, given that the desire of most vendors along Oxford Street is to pedestrianise it!
‘It’s true that this is one of the most polluted streets on the planet, but the only people inconvenienced by this are the people least able to make a difference!’
An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said of the Oxford Circus protest: ‘The end of the Rebellion approaches, and Oxford Circus has once again been occupied by Extinction Rebellion, to be used as a space of community and democratic resistance.
‘We are coming together to tell the truth, and to bring attention to why we are protesting. It’s not about causing meaningless disruption; we have a vital message to bring – the consequences of the climate and ecological crisis are horrific.
‘Extinction Rebellion, as well as other movements around the world including the climate strikes and decades of indigenous resistance, are using the beacon of civil resistance to shine a light on this emergency.’
The pyramid structure has been erected in the middle of the junction. One man is sitting on top of it, forcing buses to be re-routed
Scores of police stand circled the wooden pyramid structure, as protesters sat on top of it, or lay down underneath it
Police escort protesters dressed in red along Whitehall in London during an Extinction Rebellion demo this afternoon
A protester with her hand painted walks along Whitehall in London during an Extinction Rebellion climate change protest
Comedian Steve Coogan (right) today become the latest celebrity to support the Extinction Rebellion protest, joining activists (some dressed in red for their ‘red hand protest, left) on a march towards Whitehall
Comedian Steve Coogan today become the latest celebrity to support the Extinction Rebellion protest, joining activists on a march towards Whitehall.
Coogan told the PA news agency: ‘I wanted to lend my voice to the cause. Maybe people who like what I have done and who might not be completely sold on Extinction Rebellion might give it a second chance.
‘It’s an important movement. Some people try to characterise it as a fringe movement, but it’s not. I like the fact that it was started by young people, but now older people have joined in too.
‘Climate change feels like just another issue on the agenda that people are reluctant to pay attention to. But people in Extinction Rebellion and people who seriously believe want to make it a bigger issue.
‘Anyone who is against the movement is motivated purely by the bottom line.
‘I have always been environmentally aware and environmentally conscious. I just do not want to stand on the sidelines and not participate. It’s easy to sit and not do anything.’
The scenes today were very different to back in April when hundreds of protesters descended on the junction (pictured)
Actress Emma Thompson joins climate protesters in Oxford Street on April 19. The pink boat remained in place for nearly a week before it was removed
As protests enter day 12, Extinction Rebellion is planning a ‘red handed’ protest which will see it spray-paint handprints around Westminster.
Asked about why the activists were protesting despite the police ban, Phyllis Wolff from Dorset said it would be a bigger risk if they did not act.
‘It’s a bigger risk for us not to do this,’ she told the PA news agency.
‘I look at my grandchildren and I think, how can I not do this?’
Activist Alice Hampton, from London, said the group has the right to protest.
‘We do have a right to a powerful protest in this country,’ she told the PA news agency.
‘Climate change is probably the biggest issue we have ever faced. We are here protesting peacefully.’
Extinction Rebellion which launched its latest campaign 10 days ago, said it was planning on using washable chalk spray to mark the path of its march from Whitehall Gardens to six government departments.
A spokesman said: ‘We will raise our red hands, taking responsibility for our actions – we all have blood on our hands.
‘We march in admission and recognition of the part we play in the injustice of this emergency, and the ongoing suffering of thousands of people around the world due to the climate and ecological breakdown.’
The Autumn Uprising is due to end at 6pm on Saturday.
Elsewhere in London fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, joined her son Joe Corre and a member of Extinction Rebellion outside the head office of BP.
They are delivering a report on the company’s activities in West Papua in Indonesia.
Yesterday, Extinction Rebellion was forced to apologise after activists targeted a tube train at Canning Town.
One activist was dragged to the ground from the roof of the train by an irate commuter. Video then showed the activist apparently kicking out at the person who had pulled him to the floor.
The group later said: ‘It is regretful that there was violence at today’s action at Canning Town tube station. We would like to express our sadness that events escalated this way.
Responses from workers on Twitter showed that sympathy among the public is running thin after two weeks of mayhem
‘We are aware that one of our activists responded in self-defence in a moment of panic when confronted by a threatening situation.
‘He acknowledges his accountability for this action and we offer gratitude for members of the public who helped to protect him.’
The group apologised for the disruption caused to commuters, but said the incident should not create ‘unnecessary division’.
The protester dragged off the London Underground train by angry commuters has been revealed to be an accounts administrator from Bristol.
James Mee, 35, was part of a gang including a Buddhist teacher, a grandfather and a vicar who brought chaos to three stations east of the capital: Canning Town, Shadwell and Stratford.
He and Mark Ovland, 36, were dragged from the top of a Tube train at Canning Town before being roughed up by enraged commuters.
(Left to right) Free West Papua spokesperson Raki Ap, Free West Papua leader Benny Wenda, Dame Vivienne Westwood, her son Joe Corre and a member of Extinction Rebellion outside the head office of BP, in London, where they are delivering a report on the company’s activities in West Papua
Their actions led to Extinction Rebellion cancelling its planned Gatwick ‘shutdown’ as members high up within the organisation condemn the splinter group for halting trains despite a group-wide poll deciding against the stunt.
A senior source within the climate protest group, said last night: ‘We were vehemently opposed to it. So it’s really upsetting for this to happen. This was not an action we support.
‘Despite this, the action has gone ahead, and we feel that the actions of a handful of protestors have jeopardised our movement, turning public opinion against us, and creating a potential schism within our ranks. We are furious that this has happened.’
Mr Mee kicked out at a man who approached the carriage but was dragged to the platform and roughed up, drawing howls of outrage from Londoners, politicians, union leaders, police, and official XR spokespeople.
Another of the activists who climbed on top of a tube train this morning has been identified as a 36-year-old Buddhist.
Mark Ovland gave up his full-time Buddhist teacher training studies earlier this year to join XR as a ‘full time protestor’.