A bright pink wooden boat in Oxford Circus, the symbol of the five-day climate protests which have brought parts of central London to a standstill and the stage from which actress Emma Thompson delivered her ‘love poem to the earth’ today, has finally been removed by police.
The boat has been towed out of Oxford Circus but remains behind a new police cordon at to the entrance of Regent Street. Climate change protesters have filled Oxford Circus again, with some sitting on the road,
Earlier today dozens of police officers marched into Oxford Circus today while the actress stood speaking from the deck of the boat on the fifth day of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations which have closed key routes through the capital and resulted in at least 682 arrests including more than 100 today.
Hi-vis jacketed officers formed two concentric rings around the structure and shepherded protestors away from the boat through the course of this afternoon.
Shortly after 5pm police had finally succeeded in clearing the centre of Oxford Circus and had unglued the final protestor from the boat, and are now dismantling the pink ship which has been stationed at the crossroads since Monday morning.
Specialist officers wearing helmets and harnesses have taken down the mast and could be seen working on top of the boat, before the entire boat was hauled away.
Crowds of people watching the operation, drumming and chanting with many carrying banners and flags.
One woman was arrested for trying to barge through police lines as officers started to move the boat away, while crowds booed shouted ‘fascists’ as police escorted the woman away.
Around 50 protesters undertook a seated protest in the middle of Margaret Street, which crossed Regent Street, to delay the boat’s removal.
More than 100 hours after the boat was stationed at the crossroads of two of London’s busiest streets – Oxford Street and Regent Street – police put it on a trailer and started to tow it away
Police ran ahead of the route the boat was taking in order to clear prospective protestors out of the way
The boat was escorted by walking – and at times jogging – police men and women at all times as it was moved away
But police struggled to get the boat away from the centre of London as officers have found that they themselves are blocked in by protestors.
The boat was inching north away Oxford Circus along Regent Street. But protestors formed a blockade on Margaret Street, the first intersection north of Oxford Circus, and on Mortimer Street, the next after that, while others swarmed back into Oxford Circus, closing off the opportunity for the police and the boat to head back the way they came.
The crowds and the police are now locked in a game of cat-and-mouse with trying to block junctions with Regent Street on the path ahead of them, while protestors try to get past police to block their route.
The demonstration remains good-tempered with police and crowds running in multiple directions. One woman was heard to say: ‘This is the first time the police have been kettled’.
Police officers prepare to tow away the pink boat which climate change activists used as a central point of their encampment
For around an hour police found themselves ‘kettled’ by protestors as their efforts to remove the boat were hampered by crowds on the route ahead of them
The boat was removed from Oxford Circus but couldn’t progress north up Regent Street due to crowds on Margaret Street. Police eventually dispersed those crowds and the structure has now been towed away
Police have formed a cordon around the boat but are making slow progress because protestors have formed a further cordon around the police
Protestors chanted jeered and booed when police towed away the boat which had formed the focal point of their protest
Extinction Rebellion protestors hugged each other as the police started to move them away from the boat
In Oxford Circus XR banners were waved high in the air on the warmest Easter weekend in 70 years today
The Met has now hitched the boat to a lorry and towed away from the centre of Oxford Circus but a sit-down protest in the middle of a nearby road has prevented it being moved very far
Police are coming closer to retaking Oxford Circus from Extinction Rebellion protestors this evening having now evicted them from the pink boat at the centre of the crossroads
Lowering the mast: After five days, specialist police officers this evening started to dismantle the pink boat at Oxford Circus
After concentric circles of police moved outwards from the boat earlier in the day to clear Oxford Circus, specialists climbed aboard and took down the mast
Police unglued the final protestor from the mast of the boat before starting to dismantle the mast. They have towed it away
Earlier, huge crowds gathered as Hollywood star Thompson, who jetted into London Heathrow from California on Wednesday, laughed with demonstrators as youth members of the group held a so-called ‘Day of Love’.
Dame Emma also compared the movement to the Suffragettes, saying they also ‘disrupted an awful lot of people’s lives in order to get something that we now take for granted ‘ in their fight for the right to vote.
The Sense and Sensibility star, a seasoned climate change campaigner, told the BBC: ‘Unfortunately, sometimes, I have to fly. But I don’t fly nearly as much as I did because of my carbon footprint. And I plant a lot of trees.’
The boat was encircled by a ring of steel formed by at least 30 officers, which came hours after police told of the ‘strain’ the protests were putting on them with officers working 12-hour shifts and having rest days cancelled.
Once Dame Emma had got back on the ground and left, specialist officers began cutting protesters from the frame of the boat – which has become a focal point for the demonstrations – and leading them away.
At the end of the fifth day of climate change protests in London, massive crowds continued to congregate in Oxford Circus
One man enjoyed his afternoon in an impromptu hammock as police towed away the pink boat at the crossroads
As large numbers of police
The protests have remained extremely good-natured, causing the police to say they are learning on the job how best to deal with non-violent protestors who are nonetheless willing to be arrested int heir hundreds
Protests were still going strong in the sunshine today (left) while police tried to remove protestors and their placards (right)
After spending the day in full uniform shepherding protestor away from Oxford Circus in 77 degree heat some officers took a breather after the boat was removed
Police maintained a strong presence as Extinction Rebellion protests continued at Oxford Circus
Police and protestors were cheek by jowl in Oxford Circus this afternoon before the boat was removed
Once Dame Emma had got off the pink boat at Oxford Circus today, specialist officers began cutting protesters from its frame
Dame Emma talks to members of the media from on top of the pink boat after police officers surrounded it today
Dame Emma hugs one of the protest organisers as she gets off the boat at Oxford Circus today following her speech
Specialist officers are wearing harnesses and carrying boxes of equipment and protective visors at Oxford Circus today
Police officers remove the last protester from a pink boat at Oxford Circus during the fifth day of a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group
The protestor shows the remains of the superglue on his hands, as specialist police look to be gearing up finally to take away the boat which has blocked one of London’s busiest intersections since Monday morning
One of the last remaining Extinction Rebellion demonstrators attached to the ‘Tell the truth’ boat, who glued himself to the mast, is detached and helped off the boat by police in Oxford Circus,
Dame Emma speaks to protesters this morning from the pink boat that has blocked traffic from Oxford Circus for five days
Dozens of officers strode into the crowd of activists today and started to surround the pink boat which Dame Emma was in
Dame Emma stands on the boat as she speaks to climate change activists occupying the road junction at Oxford Circus today
Miriam Instone, 20, from Manchester, has been staying at the Marble Arch camp since Monday. She told MailOnline: ‘It was horrible watching people being escorted away and arrested. Emotionally draining.
‘My friend and I stood there with tears running down our face and it was haunting to see police officers staring back at you seemingly impassive. Blank expressions. I believe the fact police waited for Emma Thompson to speak before going in was more than likely a deliberate act. And they are still kettling people – there’s children in there.
‘We get that we’re not meant to be here and the police don’t want us here because climate change is a subject the establishment has poured trillions of pounds into to deny. We just want to hang on for the weekend now.’
Protester Hamish Alston, 52, told MailOnline: ‘Emma Thompson was speaking earlier and the police moved in just after she finished apparently. I don’t know exactly their tactics but they’ve definitely ramped up their strategy since the start of the week when they were very friendly with us.
‘Generally speaking the police have been great with us, we know that we’re lucky that in this country we can protest like this. Nobody else in Europe can.
A police notice issued under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 was issued on Monday night at 6pm ordering protestors to vacate Waterloo Bridge and continue their protest lawfully at Marble Arch. Five days later, they’re still there.
Many on the bridge have brought potted plants or trees, other arrived with yoga mats and enjoyed their exercise in the sunshine today
Police officers arrive at Oxford Circus as they prepare to remove protesters during the fifth day of the protest today
Children as young as ten are camping out in Oxford Circus this weekend as part of eco protests that have caused chaos in London.
One young girl’s father turned down a request to speak to MailOnline when asked if he thought it was responsible bringing such a young child to a protest.
Two boys aged 10 and 12 travelled down from Bath on Thursday with their mother.
The bored youngsters were standing behind tents but their mother said they were not staying overnight and had only come down for the day.
Hundreds of protesters from climate change group Extinction Rebellion were today continuing to block Oxford Street as police moved in on protesters who had chained themselves to a pink boat left in the middle of the road.
Officers formed a kettle around the boat trapping inside parents with children.
A climate change activist reacts during an Extinction Rebellion protest at Oxford Circus in London today
Police officers carry away a climate change activist who was occupying the road junction at Oxford Circus in London today
Police carry away a demonstrator who was part of the environmental protest by Extinction Rebellion at Oxford Circus today
The protestors have adopted the tactic of going limp when placed under arrest, requiring four officers to move them
Climate change activists are seen gathering at Oxford Circus, surrounded by police during the protest this afternoon
Police officers escort a climate change activist who was occupying the road junction at Oxford Circus in London today
Climate change activists chant as they occupy the road junction at Oxford Circus in London today
Police officers surround the pink boat at Oxford Circus as they prepare to remove protesters this afternoon
Police surrounded the boat in two circles later on as one officer told bystanders that there was an ordinance to clear the area
I’ve had to axe staff, says furious delivery firm boss
The owner of a delivery firm vented his fury at the protesters yesterday, as he spoke of having to sack 15 employees because of the disruption.
The man, named Matt, from Merton, south London, said the damage to his company was ‘unbelievable’ as he slammed police and London mayor Sadiq Khan for not taking stronger action.
He told Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio: ‘I’m in the transport industry and I run 25 vans. Last night I had to turn around and terminate five drivers. Today I’ve got to turn around and terminate ten drivers because they can’t make deliveries in Central London. They’re now gone for good from my company. It’s costing me money. The damage this is causing is unbelievable.’
He went on: ‘When you look at the London riots the Met drafted in police officers from other areas to deal with the situation. Yet they’re doing nothing. And Mr Khan is supporting [the activists].’
Another caller, named Stephen, added: ‘I’m a self-employed construction manager. If I don’t work, if I don’t get out of bed, I don’t get money in and I can’t pay my bills, mortgages or look after the family.’
He questioned where the activists’ money was coming from while they demonstrated. ‘These people are blinded by their sheer stupidity that they can’t see the wood for the trees,’ he added.
‘I think they’ve been confused how to handle this to be honest because everyone has been super peaceful but they’ve been under pressure to get tougher. We’ve had grandparents being forcibly removed from the area and I’m sure the officers didn’t want to do that.’
One officer told bystanders that there was an ordinance to clear the area, with dozens of officers stationed beyond the group by a number of police vans parked in Regent Street.
Police pushed bystanders from the blockade as dozens of officers moved in. Dame Emma left the protest but told activists she was sorry she had to go. She said it was the police’s decision to expend manpower at a non-violent protest.
She added: ‘If they choose to close down a non-violent protest by using their police… that’s their decision. If that causes difficulties then that’s their problem and their decision.’
Police then began carrying and leading activists away from the protest in Oxford Circus. One woman was carried out the cordons by four officers and a man led away by two more. Specialist officers entered the ring of police.
Officers wearing hi-vis jackets with protester removal team written on them were within the cordon. There were also officers wearing harnesses and carrying boxes of equipment and protective visors.
Officers grabbed people trying to break through the police ring and pushed them back.
Earlier, this morning a group of activists, most of them under 17, had staged a brief demonstration on roads near Heathrow Airport.
Standing close to a tunnel which leads to terminals two and three, they unfurled a black banner with the message: ‘Are we the last generation?’
Dame Emma speaks from the boat today before she climbed down and started talking to the activists glued to its frame
Several police officers watched over group before an XR spokesman announced before midday there were no further plans to cause disruption at the airport.
All roads remained open during the demonstration, which is part of a two-week campaign that began in central London on Monday. Heathrow previously said it was ‘working with authorities’ to remain business as usual.
Waterloo Bridge has now been blocked by demonstrators for five days despite the Metropolitan Police making more than 570 arrests.
Ten people had been charged by the force by Thursday night and three others arrested by British Transport Police were remanded in custody after they appeared in court accused of obstructing trains at Canary Wharf.
The Met said: ‘The protesters are using tactics of lying on the ground when approached. This means that it takes at least four officers to remove one person to ensure their safety which is resource intensive.’
Routes are also blocked around Parliament Square and Marble Arch, and Home Secretary Sajid Javid has urged police to use the ‘full force of the law’.
‘I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law,’ Mr Javid said. ‘They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives.’
An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is taken away by police on Waterloo Bridge in London today as protests continue
A demonstrator is carried away by police on Waterloo Bridge today (left) where a woman stood with a bicycle (right)
An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is walked away by police on Waterloo Bridge in London this afternoon
An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator is carried away from the road by police on Waterloo Bridge in London today
Police speak to an Extinction Rebellion demonstrator on Waterloo Bridge in London today as the protests continue
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators sit in the sunshine on Waterloo Bridge in London this afternoon
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators hold a community meeting on Waterloo Bridge in London this afternoon
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators sit on a lorry on Waterloo Bridge today as police are urged to use the ‘full force of the law’
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told BBC Breakfast the protests were ‘very, very difficult’ to handle and could cost ‘millions’.
He said: ‘The sufferers will be the communities in the local boroughs where officers are being taken from the community areas and the funding and money has to be found to deal with what we are doing.’
XR has pledged to continue causing disruption until its demands are met. They want the Government to declare a climate emergency and take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Back in January 2009, Dame Emma hit back at former transport secretary Geoff Hoon after he criticised the hypocrisy of celebrities who campaigned against the third runway at Heathrow.
The actress joined a team of green activists in buying a patch of land next to the proposed runway. But the minister suggested that Dame Emma, who jets to America for her acting work, had to examine her own behaviour.
But, according to the Guardian, she accused him of missing the point. She retorted: ‘Get a grip, Geoff. This is not a campaign against flying – we’re trying to stop the expansion of Heathrow in the face of climate change.’