Teams of police officers descended on London City Airport this morning as flight passengers braced for chaos with Extinction Rebellion climate activists set to unleash a three-day Hong Kong-style protest.
Travellers face mayhem at the airport in East London from 9am today as demonstrators look set to emulate protesters who cancelled more than 1,000 flights as they condemned police brutality in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile Scotland Yard said they are unable to confirm how many demonstrators are being held in cells across the capital after the force said they had made more than 1,000 arrests in just three days.
LBC journalist Rachael Venables said there were ‘an extraordinary number of police officers’ protecting the City airport terminal today, and security had been stepped up with no one now allowed inside without a boarding pass.
The Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson has backed the tactics of the protesters. Mr Johnson Snr was asked if he supports the demonstrators occupying streets and their plans to chain themselves to parts of the airport.
LBC journalist Rachael Venables said there were ‘an extraordinary number of police officers’ protecting City Airport today
Teams of police officers descended on London City Airport this morning as flight passengers braced for chaos
‘I think we’ve got to take a fairly relaxed view on this,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘I don’t think many of them are breaking the law. I believe that they are wedded to non-violence, to peaceful protest.’
He insisted that the crisis is one thing that unites the family, whose views over Brexit range wildly. ‘If there’s an issue that does unite us, I would say it’s this environmental issue, climate change,’ Mr Johnson said.
Overnight, dance music duo Orbital played a DJ set to crowds of flag-waving environmentalists in Trafalgar Square amid claims that police were running out of cells in which to hold those they had detained since Monday.
Guardian journalist Damien Gayle tweeted from the scene: ‘Bass and drum at Extinction Rebellion Trafalgar Square right now. I’m told that police have stopped arresting rebels ‘because they’ve run out of space in the cells’.’
The Met Police told MailOnline this morning that this is ‘not accurate’ but was unable to say how many of the 800 arrested were still detained. A spokesman for the force said: ‘The Met has not reached cell capacity.’
It comes a day after the Government took the extraordinary step of drafting in 500 officers from 43 other police forces in England and Wales as they try to round up the mob bringing chaos to the capital.
Dance music duo Orbital perform a DJ set at an Extinction Rebellion rave last night at Trafalgar Square in London
Orbital are pictured on stage in Trafalgar Square at an Extinction Rebellion rave last night as the protests continue in London
The Red Brigade group has hit the streets of London in the Extinction Rebellion protests at Trafalgar Square last night
Those arrested include 91-year-old veteran campaigner John Lynes. Illegal sites in Whitehall and Horseferry Road remain closed while police spend hours moving the activists to avoid injury and potential compensation claims.
Circus performers joined in last night, draping themselves in red robes to resemble blood. Invisible Circus, a street performance group from Bristol, joined their ranks – adding their painted faces to the throngs on Downing Street.
With faces painted white, they wore clothing designed to remind everyone present of the blood that binds humanity together as police admitted they were being forced to neglect crime victims to patrol the protests.
The protest group says its members intend to ‘peacefully occupy and shut down’ the airport’s terminal building from 9am this morning.
Activists say they will achieve this by lying, sitting or gluing themselves in front of the departure and arrival gates at the East London airport.
If they do not make it into the building, they plan to occupy the airport’s access road and DLR station. The latest protest is against the climate impact of flying and the Government’s ongoing support of airport expansion.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the latest famous face to have shown up at the Extinction Rebellion protests in London last night
Cumberbatch is pictured speaking with protesters demonstrating for Extinction Rebellion in London yesterday evening
Sherlock star Cumberbatch poses for a photograph with the protesters last night who are camped at Trafalgar Square
Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rupert Read said: ‘By non-violently shutting down this airport, in homage to the style of the Hong Kong democracy protesters, we are demonstrating the utter frailty of the transport systems that countries such as ours, unwisely, have come to depend upon.’
The group said hundreds of people have already signed up to take part in the protest, which will seem them ‘non-violently use their bodies’ to close the airport. It said those taking part are willing to risk being arrested to achieve their aim.
Hundreds of police officers are being drafted in from across England and Wales to help the Metropolitan Police with the protests, which are now in their fourth day.
Activists have been camped on rounds around Parliament Square and Whitehall since Monday calling for urgent action on climate change and wildlife.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that 800 people had been arrested on Monday and Tuesday, with another 220 detained yesterday.
Police detain an Extinction Rebellion environmental activist outside the Treasury in London during the protests yesterday
Tents at the Extinction Rebellion camp on Marsham Street in Westminster yesterday as the protests continue
Nursing mothers with their children block Whitehall during the Extinction Rebellion mass ‘nurse-in’ road blockade yesterday
Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said there are plans in place to intervene and ‘deal proactively’ with anyone who has the intention of shutting down the airport.
A London City Airport spokesman said they were working with the Met Police to prepare for the protests and all passengers would be required to show their boarding pass to access the terminal.
Mr Taylor said yesterday that the scale of operation was having a big impact on policing in other areas of the capital.
He said: ‘We haven’t stopped policing, we never will, but it does mean that some activities beyond the normal responses are affected.
‘We cannot spent the amount of time with victims we would normally because we have to make sure we are dealing with the protests. We are not at the level we would want to be… and police officers should be working in their communities.’