Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion are launching protests in five British cities on Monday, after staging April demonstrations to denounce public and political “inaction” towards the climate emergency.
Last spring, police arrested about 1,000 participants in the first protest series, with the first 30 protesters appearing in court last Friday on public order offences.
Two London courtrooms have reserved every Friday for the following 19 weeks to try the protesters in batches of 50.
The protesters—some of whom actively sought arrest by gluing themselves to trains, bridges, and trucks—argue that their protests were both peaceful and proportionate to the threat climate deregulation and degradation pose.
Their advocates stress that nonviolent civil disobedience—however disruptive to the general public—should not be criminalised. Others argue that prosecuting en masse is a “waste” of law enforcement resources.
But the Met deemed the disruption “beyond unacceptable,” accusing protesters of jeopardising Londoners’ right to “go about their daily business” and ignoring lawmakers’ instructions.
They add that such radical tactics harmed local policing by diverting thousands of officers “away from core local duties.”
Is inconvenience a protest’s very point—something democracy ought to protect?
Or should protests—however peaceful—respect other people’s choice to engage with or ignore issues?