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Extinction Rebellion: 92-year-old among dozens arrested in London's climate protests

LONDON, UK — Thousands of Extinction Rebellion protesters came in force at Parliament Square in London, leading to at least 90 arrests. This includes John Lynes, a 92-year-old Extinction Rebellion demonstrator, who was arrested by the Metropolitan Police.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a global environmental movement with the aim of using non-violent civil disobedience methods to force government action and avoid tipping points in the climate crisis, steering clear of the risk of social and ecological collapse. On 1st September, the group kicked off 10 days of civil disobedience to demand government action on the climate crisis.

The group has been warned that it could face a £10,000 fine for organizing a gathering of more than 30 people under coronavirus legislation. Over 200 campaigners have been arrested so far. The civil liberties group Liberty said that legitimate protest was being impeded by forceful police tactics.

Four XR groups blocked roads as they marched across central London, waving brightly colored flags and banners. Several protestors sat in the middle of an intersection next to Parliament Square blocking traffic. Dozens of police officers had to swoop in and carry them away to vans parked nearby. The demonstrators urged MPs to back what they have described as the “climate and ecological emergency bill”.

In a nutshell, the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill calls for UK to make and enact a detailed plan that deals with its share of emissions (So that it doesn’t exceed critical global rises in temperature), the country’s entire carbon footprint be taken into account (in the UK and overseas), and protection and conservation of nature within the nation and overseas along supply chains. They also demand that those in power do not depend on technology to save the day— an excuse used to carry on polluting as usual.

In response to the demonstrations, Metropolitan police issued restrictions under section 14 of the Public Order Act to limit the protest to the off-road area of Parliament Square gardens, and Section 14 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act of 1994 states— “ A person guilty of an offence of riot shall be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both.”

Commander Jane Connors of the Metropolitan police said: “The reason we have implemented these conditions is that we know these protests may result in serious disruption to local businesses, commuters and our communities and residents, which I will not tolerate.”

The Green MP Caroline Lucas addressed the crowd in Parliament Square to announce that she would table the climate and ecological emergency bill: "Thank you for showing more political leadership than that place over there,” she said, gesturing to the House of Commons.

Identical protests took place in Cardiff, where protesters hung a large banner from the office of the secretary of state of Wales. In Manchester, demonstrators blocked roads as they congregated in St. Peter’s Square with giant puppets.

Climate change instills a sense of impending doom in the minds of those who think about it. While there are ways to reverse this ticking time bomb of ecological catastrophe, the real power of change lies in the hands of those who profit the most off nature’s loss. What is needed is tenacious political reform, and the common man has realized that. Through protests to a city square of puppets, individuals are doing everything possible to influence UK’s political power in Earth's favour.

Reporter- Ananya Sreekumar

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