XR summer rebellion begins

Extinction Rebellion actions taking place in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and London.

The future you fear is already here.

Environmental campaigners shut down a busy central London road as they called for an end to prosecutions of protesters and urged the Government to take action on climate change.

Extinction Rebellion, which brought central London to a halt earlier this year with protests calling for environmental action, has launched a "summer uprising" in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and London.

More than 200 Extinction Rebellion protesters gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand on Monday, blocking the road to traffic in both directions as part of their five-day "summer uprising" in several cities across the UK.

Future

A large blue boat emblazoned with the words "Act Now" was parked on the street outside the main entrance of the building and used as a makeshift stage for speakers to address the crowd.

The group said the demonstration was to "demand the legal system take responsibility in this crisis, and ensure the safety of future generations by making ecocide law".

It also called on the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the prosecutions of more than 1,000 Extinction Rebellion protesters who were arrested during demonstrations at five London sites in April.

Jayne Forbes, 63, of Extinction Rebellion London, said: "I was arrested during the International Rebellion in April because it is so important to stand up and challenge a government who is not even performing its primary function of providing our security for the future.

"I therefore believe we have a duty to engage in civil disobedience to promote the need for action now for climate and ecological justice. And yet the government may want to prosecute me for taking a stand to protect our future."

Liam Geary Baulch, 26, said: "I'm here today because we are in an ecological and climate emergency and we are seeing people around the world taking action because something needs to be done now.

Ecocide

"Although we see Governments starting to accept the emergency and setting targets, they are not acting now. Our demand is net zero (carbon) by 2025. We are demanding the Government act now."

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said the force has a plan in operation outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

There was a strong police presence in the area, including around a dozen vans, and the main entrance to the court complex was closed to court users and the public. The Strand was blocked between Aldwych and Chancery Lane and traffic was redirected.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said in a statement on Friday that the force had been planning its operation ahead of the protests. "We have been engaged with the organisers to understand their plans but we cannot tolerate behaviour that crosses a criminal threshold."

The boat, which also had the words "we are nature defending itself" painted on the side, was named Polly Higgins after the late environmental lawyer who campaigned for ecocide to be made a crime. A flag with the phrase "make ecocide law" was raised from its mast.

Anthem

Protesters of all ages, including several young children, sat in the road and listened to a number of speakers. Songs, poetry and a water ceremony were also performed from the boat.

At one point, a woman announced that the protesters had "caused a major disruption in London today", to cheers from the crowd.

Another campaigner speaking from the boat said: "I find it incredible that they are clearing so much space in the courts to prosecute all those people who were arrested, when we know who they should be prosecuting."

Members of the crowd then shouted out the names of a number of large corporations in response, including BP, Shell and Monsanto.

At the junction of the Strand and Aldwych, a smaller group gathered and sang songs at the passing traffic, including the protest anthem, "We Shall Overcome".

Act

Environmental protesters are taking action across five UK cities to call on the government to halt wildlife losses and cut greenhouse gases to net zero by 2025.

Protesters in each city are unveiling a large coloured boat, each named after an environmental activist, with the message "Act Now" on it.

The activists say they are staging a series of "creative acts of civil disobedience", blocking specific locations, bridges and roads as well as holding talks, workshops, people's assemblies and family-friendly activities.

In Glasgow, activists are using a 25ft purple boat to block Trongate, covering the intersection of Gallowgate and High Street, by the Merchant City clock tower.

The boat carries a message from the group which says "Act Now", with "The future you fear is already here" on the other side of the vessel.

Dying

Protesters are targeting Leeds' financial district to draw attention to the links between banking and the climate and ecological emergency.

Members of Extinction Rebellion parked a large green boat outside Cardiff Castle and held banners reading "Act Now" and "Climate Emergency" as commuters were subjected to delays during the morning rush hour.

Tents were also set up on grass in front of Cardiff City Hall, the home of the Welsh capital's local government, as campaigners looked set to camp there ahead of more disruption in the coming days.

A leaflet handed out by campaigners said they were protesting "to prevent the breakdown of humanity's life support system, the Earth", and said they were calling for the the UK Government to create a "national assembly" to implement climate change solutions.

Stephen Lingwood, 37, from Extinction Rebellion Cardiff, said: "People are dying right now of climate chaos in places like India. It's only going to get worse.

"We're at the beginning of the sixth mass extinction and a climate genocide and the Government's inaction is, in my view, criminally irresponsible."

Protesters parked a large blue boat outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, ahead of prosecutions of more than 1,000 people arrested during protests in April, with activists calling for all the cases to be dropped.

These Authors

Sian Harrison and Sam Tobin are reporters with PA.

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