(Bloomberg) -- Climate protesters defied London police to block traffic across the U.K. capital for a second day on Tuesday after more than 120 were arrested for obstructing roads.
Activists from the group Extinction Rebellion blocked streets around Parliament and set up food stalls, a skateboard ramp and a stage on Waterloo Bridge, with large potted plants dotted along the crossing over the River Thames. Other protests took place at Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and Marble Arch, according to the group’s Twitter feed.
Even as police imposed restrictions and said they’d arrested 122 people -- including five for vandalizing Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s London headquarters -- organizers said the protests would continue for two weeks. They’re calling on the government to act faster to slash fossil-fuel use and fight climate change.
“We’ve plundered the benefits of this planet and now we must take responsibility as custodians of its future,” said Jacqueline Bliss, a 63-year-old from Devon, southwest England, who joined the protest on Waterloo Bridge dressed in a tiger costume.
Another protester, Bryn Raven, 75, said government efforts have all been sucked into dealing with Brexit and issues such as climate change have slipped down the policy agenda. She said she’d camped in a bivouac overnight in Hyde Park to stay with the protest.
“Brexit is a distraction from the real issues,” Raven, a yoga teacher from Suffolk, eastern England, said in an interview. “We need a different way of living.”
Ruby, a 24-year-old artist from London who declined to give her surname, said she shared Raven’s sentiment about Brexit and complained that it’s all politicians have talked about for more than three years. She said protesters would be there for “as long as it takes.”
London’s Metropolitan Police issued an order to restrict protests to the Marble Arch area of Oxford Street, but on Tuesday, blockages remained in other parts of the capital. Police said that 55 bus routes are closed and 500,000 people’s journeys affected as a result.
“At this time, ongoing demonstrations are causing serious disruptions to public transport, local businesses and Londoners who wish to go about their daily business,” the police said. “We need to ensure we are striking the right balance between allowing the right to a peaceful protest, while ensuring disruption to communities is kept to a minimum.”
Extinction Rebellion disrupted proceedings in Parliament earlier in the month, staging a topless protest in the public gallery as lawmakers debated Brexit. On Monday, protesters filled Parliament Square, including a march of protesters in fancy dress, with others bearing a coffin, and models of skeletons of humans, rhinos and cats.
The group wants the government to declare an ecological emergency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025. It’s urging ministers to establish a citizens’ assembly to analyze climate change and come up with policy proposals that would feed into government legislation.
“People need to take action like eating less red meat, using less plastics and relying less on fossil fuels,” said Jack Edge, 24, an ambulance worker from London. “Climate change is approaching us so quickly and the way we do politics is so slow.”
Members of the group handed out leaflets apologizing for the disruption and outlining their demand for a citizens’ assembly. They also carried pledge cards explaining the nonviolent principles of the protest, including bans on alcohol and illegal drugs and respect for the police.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at email@example.com, Thomas Penny, Stuart Biggs
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.