Extinction Rebellion, Trafalgar Square. Photo: Shabbir Lakha Extinction Rebellion, Trafalgar Square. Photo: Shabbir Lakha

In defiance of the police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London, thousands protested in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday, reports Chris Nineham

Londoners have responded very strongly to the outrageous Metropolitan police ban on XR protests. Less than 18 hours after it was announced, thousands of people flocked to a lunchtime protest in Trafalgar Square called by Extinction Rebellion against the ban. People from all over the South East joined the protests and they included health workers, bus drivers, students and a number of different campaigning groups including Stop the War, Grenfell campaigners, War on Want and the People’s Assembly.

The use of a Section 14 order to ban protests from the whole of a city is unprecedented and may well be outside the law. As several speakers at the protest said the ban is an attack on a fundamental civil right. It sets a precedent that could be used against anyone protesting in the future.

The XR protests have caused limited disruption in central London, and some inconvenience, but they have been very effective in highlighting the inaction of the government and the establishment which is in danger of leading to catastrophe for all of us. It is a terrible indictment of our elites that they are backing police clampdown against people who are campaigning for a viable human future. Rather than spending millions of pounds on violently suppressing peaceful protest, any responsible government would be focussing real energy on meeting the emissions targets that all science now agrees are necessary for our future.

Wars and militarism contribute massively to global warming. Stop the War has been participating in XR Peace actions over the last ten days and is one of a wide group of organisations and individuals planning to protest and hand in a letter of complaint to Scotland Yard on Thursday at 5.30pm. Please join us there.

Chris Nineham

Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.