Climate change protesters at four key sites in London remain out in force over the Easter weekend as the number of arrests tipped 700.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators will observe a candlelit vigil on Saturday evening followed by an Easter Sunday feast the following day.
Happening today from 10am at our #MarbleArch site for those of you in London - Rebel 101: How to join the movement. We'll look at the science behind #ExtinctionRebellion & what action we can take to mobilise change #InternationalRebellion https://t.co/AknHMZwc3r pic.twitter.com/SkTZCnbTev— Extinction Rebellion 🐧⌛️🦊 (@ExtinctionR) April 20, 2019
Greta Thunberg, the teenage founder of the school strikes against climate change is expected to address the protesters on Easter Sunday.
The 16-year-old Swedish activist is due to meet senior British politicians next week having already met with Pope Francis and addressed the EU Parliament.
Now awaits two days of train travel. Next stop London! pic.twitter.com/bzyx2EPdMK— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) April 20, 2019
Activists who have set up a garden on Waterloo Bridge showed no signs of shifting under the hot sun, watched on by tourists and families enjoying the end of the school holiday.
Sites at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Parliament Square are also occupied, despite the removal by police of the pink boat which had acted as a natural focal point for the movement.
Police say more than 715 people have now been arrested, six days in to the XR protests, and 28 people have been charged.
Members of the group said they were aware that some arrested demonstrators had been taken outside of London due to a lack of custody space.
One demonstrator said she had been told that some people had been taken to Brighton and Southampton.
With the pink boat no longer at Oxford Circus, supporters have sat down in a circle at the centre of the junction.
The vessel has been replaced by two demonstrators holding a sign “We are the boat” after it was removed by police on Friday after five days.
Earlier on Saturday, about 50 police officers surrounded the group who said they had been told they could remain until “no later than 10.30am”.
One demonstrator said: “Holding the space is important and being arrested is not undignified.
“We are here for an important reason, so we should be prepared to be removed for that. Being arrested is a statement.”
Another demonstrator countered: “Dignified withdrawal is an option.”
However, within minutes police numbers had dwindled, and demonstrators continued to occupy the road.
It comes as a video of police officers dragging demonstrators along the ground by the arms on Friday emerged, after Home Secretary Sajid Javid urged police to use the “full force of the law”.
In the footage, a woman is seen being dragged along the road close to Oxford Circus by a police officer who then stumbles and falls over, knocking his hat off.
Another officer is seen dragging a man sideways.
It is one of the more aggressive encounters between police and demonstrators, which have so far remained largely good natured and peaceful.
Update: statement from XR:
“We would like to remind those who have ordered the police to use the “full force of the law” that #ExtinctionRebellion is peaceful and non violent.
We face a climate and ecological emergency. Now is not the time to be on the wrong side of history”— Extinction Rebellion 🐧⌛️🦊 (@ExtinctionR) April 19, 2019
XR tweeted that the movement was “peaceful and non violent”, adding: “We face a climate and ecological emergency. Now is not the time to be on the wrong side of history”.
The group has pledged to continue causing disruption until its demands are met.
It wants the Government to declare a climate emergency and take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Press Association