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Policing Extinction Rebellion Protests Has Cost Over £50 Million: Met Police

Brittany Jordan

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More than £50 million ($68 million) has been spent on policing Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests since 2019, the Metropolitan Police said on Friday ahead of another round of protests planned by the environmental activist group.

The climate activist group staged prolonged demonstrations in April and October 2019 and September 2020, when protesters blocked entrances, halted traffic, glued themselves to buildings and roads, defaced a statue of Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and disrupted newspaper printing.

A family walk past as activists take part in a demonstration outside Buckingham Palace, as part of protests by the Extinction Rebellion climate change group, in central London, on Sept. 5, 2020 (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

Met Commander Rachel Williams said during a press briefing on Friday that the three events have cost the Met “in excess of £50 million.”

“I’m in no doubt this year’s policing operation will run into the millions and will result in many police officers sacrificing their time off to help mitigate any disruption and bring order and safety to the streets of London,” Williams told reporters.

XR has called for two weeks of civil disobedience starting from Aug. 23, to “disrupt the City of London to target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis,” but it also said the disruption will last until the UK government agrees with its new demand, which is to “stop all new fossil fuel investment immediately.”

The Met said its officers are working with the City of London officers to develop a comprehensive policing plan.

Judging from previous experiences from XR demonstrations, and the fact that the protests are planned around the August bank holiday, which is usually busy for the police, “the scale and complexity of resources needed to respond will stretch across all areas of the Met” including “specialist policing teams will also be on standby who can respond to and manage protesters in a safe manner who have built, or locked themselves to, complicated structures,” the Met said in a statement on Aug. 20.

Actor Stephen Fry on Friday shared a video from XR on Twitter, showing Fry voicing his support for the organisation and its plans.

XR activist Zoe Blackler told PA news agency on Friday that the sixth “Assessment Report” published recently by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which again argued in favor of the view that mankind’s emissions of CO2 were to blame for global warming, and recent scenes of flooding, have ignited more “public anxiety and desire for action.”

XR also said on Friday that it has raised over £300,000 ($409,000) through crowdfunding in the last few weeks.

Extinction Rebellion UK
Police and fire services at the scene, outside Broxbourne news printers as protesters continue to block the road, in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, England, on Sept. 5, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

Home Secretary Priti Patel has previously said that XR, while claiming to be “an environmental rights campaign group,” continuously use “guerrilla tactics” with contempt, “seeking to grind the economic well-being of our nation into the ground under the pretence of tackling climate change,” and that the government “will not stand by.”

The government is also trying to pass legislation to put restrictions on protests, partly in response to XR protests.

But governments, including the UK government, mostly steer their policy on the assumption that greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of climate change.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to have the UK achieve “net-zero” by 2050, despite warnings that the plan is costly, would compromise grid security, and cause other environmental and social damages (pdf).

In contrast with the IPCC report, a new study published on Monday by a team of almost two dozen scientists from around the world concluded that previous studies did not adequately consider the role of solar energy in explaining increased temperatures.

Alex Newman contributed to this report.

Lily Zhou

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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