Police have arrested more than 1,000 climate activists in London over eight days of direct actions that have shut down major parts of the city, including Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, and Parliament Square, Reuters reported. The rallies are the latest in a growing number of climate protests across the globe in recent months, led by youth activists like Greta Thunberg.
Last week, one activist glued himself to the side of a train at Canary Wharf station, disrupting rail services. Another group of protesters, all born after 1990, blocked traffic on a roundabout outside of Heathrow Airport with a sign reading, “Are we the last generation?” And on Monday, hundreds of protesters participated in a “die-in” at the Natural History Museum, lying on the floor in the museum’s lobby under a blue whale skeleton to raise awareness of the sixth mass extinction, The Guardian reported.
The protests are being organized by Extinction Rebellion, an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to call for immediate action on climate change and the global loss of biodiversity. Police said 1,065 people have been arrested in connection with the London protests, 53 of which have been officially charged with offenses like obstructing a highway. Mayor Sadiq Khan said the direct actions were taking “a real toll” on London’s police force, which has deployed 9,000 officers to respond to the rallies since they began April 15, the BBC reported.
At a gathering of thousands of people at Marble Arch over the weekend, Thunberg, the Swedish youth climate leader who is credited with sparking the recent wave of climate activism, told the crowd that “humanity is standing at a crossroads.”
“For way too long,” she said, “the politicians and people in power have gotten away with not doing anything at all to fight the climate crisis and ecological crisis. But we will make sure they will not get away with it any longer.”