Climate change protesters have gathered at several locations in central London for the sixth consecutive day of disruption by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group.
Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus were blocked by activists on Saturday, despite a police effort to give the busy shopping area “a chance to return to business as usual”.
Metropolitan Police revealed more than 750 people have now been arrested in connection with the protests since they began on Monday, with 28 people charged.
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Scotland Yard admitted the ongoing cycle of arrests has put the force under pressure because it “places a logistical problem on, and not just, the police service for cell space but also the wider criminal justice system”.
Police encouraged climate change activists to protest at an organised event at Marble Arch today, but warned arrests would continue elsewhere. “There are conditions imposed on the other locations and you will be arrested.”
On Saturday afternoon activist Lyndon Edwardson said he “locked on” to Waterloo Bridge after protesters blocked the River Thames crossing. The 27-year-old and a friend have used chains and a cycle D-lock to attach themselves to the bridge and to each other.
“We will be staying until they cut us out, hopefully we can be here as long as possible,” the landscaper said, revealing that four other campaigners are glued and locked on to a lorry parked on the bridge.
Extinction Rebellion said there were about 14 police vans on the southern end of Waterloo Bridge and the group believes it is a “genuine concerted effort” to clear the area.
Max Wedderburn, a 13-year-old from Milton Keynes, addressed crowds at the bridge and received cheers and applause. “We are getting bigger, we are getting stronger, we are gathering momentum. Together we can change the future,” he said.
Speaking afterwards, he said he became inspired to fight against climate change after learning about it from his mother. He explained: “My lifelong dream is to become a zoologist but I feel there is no point if half of the animals are all dead by the time I reach that goal.”
Earlier in the day around 30 protesters sat down in the centre of the Oxford Circus junction leading police to threaten arrests. Extinction Rebellion said a liaison officer told the group police officers had “graciously withdrawn” and decided not to clear the area.
The pink boat named after murdered environmentalist Berta Caceres was removed from Oxford Circus several hours after Dame Emma Thompson used it as a stage to rally protesters on Friday. Protesters chanted “we love you” to the large police convoy escorting the boat away.
Scotland Yard said it had a “very robust policing plan” in place at Heathrow to make sure flights could take place over the Easter break without disruption.
Around 20 activists, most of them under 17, had staged a brief demonstration on roads near Heathrow Airport on Friday morning and were arrested.
“One thing that is unusual about this demonstration is the willingness of those participating to be arrested and also their lack of resistance to the arrests,” said a spokesperson.
Home secretary Sajid Javid has urged police to use the “full force of the law” against climate activists.
Extinction Rebellion responded in a statement: “We would like to remind those who have ordered the police to use the “full force of the law” that Extinction Rebellion is peaceful and non-violent. We face a climate and ecological emergency. Now is not the time to be on the wrong side of history.”
The Met has asked the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) for around 200 extra officers from police forces outside London to help deal with the protests in the capital.