Climate protestors who targeted Tube and Docklands Light Railway trains this morning were “extremely dangerous and counterproductive”, the Mayor of London has said.
Sadiq Khan said the Extinction Rebellion demonstrators caused “unacceptable disruption to Londoners” by gluing themselves to trains. He urged them to work with the police to protest safely and lawfully in future.
Two protesters were dragged from the top of a Jubilee Line train at Canning Town by commuters this morning as they tried to unfurl a banner reading “Business as usual = death”. One was knocked to the ground and kicked by angry members of the public.
Meanwhile demonstrators at Shadwell glued themselves to a DLR train. Both the Jubilee Line and DLR were partially closed as a result of the action.
Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time today, Khan said he “strongly condemned” the protest.
He said: “This illegal action is extremely dangerous, counterproductive and is causing unacceptable disruption to Londoners who use public transport to get to work. It’s also a massive burden on our already overstretched police officers. I urge the demonstrators to protest peacefully and within the boundaries of the law.”
— Holly Collins (@HollyJoCollins) October 17, 2019
He added: “Public transport is essential to tackling climate change and millions of Londoners rely on it to get about our city every day.”
Extinction Rebellion has been protesting in London for almost two weeks as part of its “autumn uprising”.
Demonstrators have blocked bridges and streets in the centre of the capital to highlight the climate emergency, and the need for urgent government action.
But on Monday night the Metropolitan Police imposed a Section 14 Order on the whole of London – effectively banning all Extinction Rebellion protests.
At Mayor’s Question Time today, Sadiq Khan said neither he nor his Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden knew about the decision.
Green assembly member Sian Berry said she was concerned he had not been consulted and believed there was a “genuine issue about powers”.
THIS IS AN EMERGENCY: utter catastrophe across virtually all walks of life.
For 30 years, the government has known our natural systems are distorting. They have kept quiet. They mislead us by not telling what they know. Londoners reaction reflects this.https://t.co/UylKKGpxlX pic.twitter.com/vxXN2neT5d
— Extinction Rebellion London (@XRLondon) October 17, 2019
But Conservative Susan Hall – the party’s crime spokesperson at City Hall – said the mayor should support the police, not challenge their decision.
She said: “You talk about lawful protest – 1,600 of them have been arrested. They’re causing mayhem on the streets. The only time you start to say, I’m going to get tougher on this is when they’re on one of your trains.
“The fact is the public took things into their own hands today, pulled somebody off the top of the train and hit him. That is not good and quite frankly it should be laid at your door.”
Extinction Rebellion said: “It is regrettable 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.
“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.
“To those that engaged in violence, we acknowledge that we disrupted your life today.”
Jessie Mathewson is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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