Extinction Rebellion: Climate activists to stage Heathrow protest

Protesters say they are practising non-violent civil disobedience and aim to get arrested to raise climate awareness.

    Police arrest protesters as they block traffic at London's Oxford Circus [Vudi Xhymshiti/AP Photo]
    Police arrest protesters as they block traffic at London's Oxford Circus [Vudi Xhymshiti/AP Photo]

    Climate change activists who have disrupted roads and bridges in central London for days say they plan to bring their civil disobedience campaign to Heathrow Airport.

    The Extinction Rebellion group, which organised the demonstrations, said on Thursday it would stage a protest at the airport, Europe's busiest, on Friday.

    It has vowed to escalate its campaign, which has included sit-ins at landmarks and busy roads across the capital of England, if the government fails to declare a climate and ecological emergency.

    London's police force urged the environmental activists to reconsider the plan, stating that the airport action could "cause further disruption and misery to thousands of travellers, many of them families, over Easter".

    "Protesters can expect a robust police response," said Metropolitan Police Service Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave. "We are determined to keep the airport operating."

    Police have made more than 460 arrests since the protests began on Monday.

    'More people joining'

    Protesters have been tying up traffic and setting up impromptu encampments at Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and at Oxford Circus in London's busy West End entertainment and shopping district.

    They laid trees in pots along the bridge's length and also set up camps in Hyde Park in preparation for further demonstrations.

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    More than 1,000 officers were being deployed to the streets of the capital each day this week, according to the interior ministry.

    Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook said "more people are joining us all the time".

    "It's certainly an option that tactics will be escalated if our demands are not met," she said.

    The group wants the British government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, halt biodiversity loss and be led by new "citizens' assemblies on climate and ecological justice".

    Its protesters say they are practising non-violent civil disobedience and aim to get arrested to raise awareness of their cause.

    The majority arrested this week were detained for breaching public order laws and obstructing a highway.

    Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Britain's interior minister, condemned the demonstrations saying protesters "do not have the right to break the law and significantly disrupt the lives of others".

    "I expect the police to take a firm stance and use the full force of the law," Javid said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies