Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked major roads in London and other cities across Europe at the beginning of what was billed as a wide-ranging series of protests demanding urgent action to deal with the world’s climate crisis.
Demonstrators marched through central London as they kicked off two weeks of activities designed to disrupt the city. London police said some 135 climate activists had been arrested.
Extinction Rebellion said protesters from the XR Peace group were arrested as they blocked Victoria Embankment, outside the Ministry of Defence.
Among those arrested was 81-year-old Sarah Lasenby, a retired social worker from Oxford.
In Berlin, around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital’s Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column. At Monday lunchtime, another 300 people blocked Berlin’s central Potsdamer Platz, placing couches, tables, chairs and flowerpots on the road.
Members of Extinction Rebellion over the weekend set up a tent camp outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office to prepare for the protests, reflecting dissatisfaction with a climate policy package drawn up last month by her government.
In Amsterdam, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major road outside the Rijksmuseum, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and set up tents. The protest went ahead despite a city ban on activists gathering on the road. The protesters ignored police calls for them to move to a nearby square.
In Spain, a few dozen activists briefly chained themselves to each other and to an elevated road over a major artery in the capital Madrid, snarling traffic during the morning rush hour. The National Police said 33 activists were taken to their premises and three were arrested for resisting orders by anti-riot officers. A few hundred other protesters camped out in 40 tents at the gates of Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition.
Those at the Berlin protests included activist Carola Rackete, best known as the German captain of a humanitarian rescue ship who was arrested for docking in an Italian port without authorisation this year to disembark migrants rescued at sea.
“We must stay here and rebel until the government proclaims an ecological emergency and acts accordingly,” Rackete said.
Founded in Britain last year, Extinction Rebellion (XR) now has chapters in some 50 countries.
The group said the protests on Monday were taking place in 60 cities worldwide.
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