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Topless Extinction Rebellion activists padlock themselves to the gates of Parliament

Topless Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists were hauled away by police after padlocking themselves to the gates of Parliament with a banner reading ‘Can’t Bare the Truth?’ today on the final day of climate change protest.  

Around 30 women gathered in central London wearing just face masks branded with ‘4C’ and trousers, and joined hands as they chained themselves to the black railings surrounding the Palace of Westminster.

The women used D-locks to chain themselves by the neck to the railings at 9.30am on the final day of the XR protests in the capital. 

The Metropolitan Police moved in around noon and began removing the woman. A spokesperson for the Met said they could not confirm the number of women arrested during the protest.  

Photos show the XR activists holding banners that read ‘Can’t Bare the Truth?’ before they were hauled away by Metropolitan Police officers in yellow high-vis jackets, face masks and blue caps.

XR tweeted in response to today’s demonstration: The forces of the state mobilise to crush dissent & protect the interests of the powerful, mothers & babies step up to defend the truth. We are in a #ClimateEmergency.

‘We face a 4C increase in temperature in the lifetime of this child. 4C = the death of millions. #WeWantToLive’.    

XR activist and teacher Sarah Mintram said: ‘Now we’ve got your attention. By neglecting to communicate the consequences of a 4C world – war, famine, drought, displacement – the Government are failing to protect us.’

Officers removed the D-locks from their necks and took the women to police stations in four separate vans as supporters cheered the protesters on from Parliament Square.

The radical climate action group made headlines at the weekend after it blockaded the Newsprinters printing presses and delayed the distribution of hundreds of thousands of newspapers including the Mail.








Police remove a topless protester after she locked herself to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest

Police remove a topless protester after she locked herself to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest

Police detain a topless Extinction Rebellion protester outside Parliament, London, on the last day of demonstrations

Police detain a topless Extinction Rebellion protester outside Parliament, London, on the last day of demonstrations

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London 

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Police remove a topless protester after she locked herself to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest

Police remove a topless protester after she locked herself to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest

A topless Extinction Rebellion protester outside the gates of Parliament, on the last day of demonstrations

A topless Extinction Rebellion protester outside the gates of Parliament, on the last day of demonstrations

It comes as Priti Patel branded Extinction Rebellion protesters as ‘so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals’ today as she vowed to crack down on their ‘guerrilla tactics’.

Speaking to the Police Superintendents’ Association annual conference, the Home Secretary said she would not allow the group to cause ‘anarchy’.

The strong words come after XR’s printing press blockade which left some newsagents’ shelves empty on Saturday morning.

Addressing the conference, held digitally due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Patel said: ‘Now it is said that where there is no law there is no freedom, and that law and order is the cornerstone of our free society.

‘And without it we have nothing. But events of the last week have exposed another emerging threat – the so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals. 

‘Attempting to thwart the media’s right to publish without fear nor favour. And a shameful attack on our way of life, our economy, and the livelihoods of the hardworking majority.

‘I refuse point plank to allow that kind of anarchy on our streets. And I’m right behind you as you bring the full might of the law down upon that selfish minority. The very criminals who disrupt our free society must be stopped. And together we must all stand firm against the guerrilla tactics of Extinction Rebellion. 








Topless protesters are removed by police after they locked themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate protest

Topless protesters are removed by police after they locked themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate protest

Topless protesters are removed by police after they locked themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate protest

Topless protesters are removed by police after they locked themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate protest

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

Topless protesters lock themselves to the railings of Parliament during a climate change protest by XR in London

An activist from the Extinction Rebellion climate change group shows a message written on her hand as she is taken away in a police van after being arrested for locking herself to railings outside Parliament

An activist from the Extinction Rebellion climate change group shows a message written on her hand as she is taken away in a police van after being arrested for locking herself to railings outside Parliament 

Some protesters daubed graffiti on Winston Churchill's statue, accusing the former PM of being a racist

Some protesters daubed graffiti on Winston Churchill’s statue, accusing the former PM of being a racist 

The XR protesters brought their bright pink boat back to the city on the final day of their two-week long demonstration

The XR protesters brought their bright pink boat back to the city on the final day of their two-week long demonstration 

‘And that means adapting to the threat that they pose and ensuring that justice is served.’

Ms Patel said ‘attacking people’s jobs and livelihoods’ is not ‘peaceful protest’. She added: ‘These are not peaceful tactics. These are tactics that are deployed to cause maximum damage to society, blocking of roads for example.

‘Last week we saw ambulances and blue lights not even being able to get through to hospitals basically, you know threatening people’s lives in addition to the economic wellbeing of our society at a time when actually we’re trying to get society up and running all over again.’

Ms Patel’s comments come after the Government said powers to help police deal with disruptive protests are ‘under constant review’. 

Home Office minister Kit Malthouse accused some XR activists of seeking to ‘impose an extremist world view’ on others, claiming the ‘worthy cause’ of environmental campaigning is ‘undermined by their tactics’.

On Monday, he said he and Ms Patel are committed to ensuring the police have the ‘powers required to deal with the disruption’ caused by groups, such as XR, telling the Commons: ‘I will keep the tools available to tackle this behaviour under constant review.’

He also said the tactics used by XR protesters will be examined to ensure police have the tools needed to ‘deal with’ problems swiftly.  

Several protesters were arrested by police, although Scotland Yard is yet to confirm the total number of people detained

Several protesters were arrested by police, although Scotland Yard is yet to confirm the total number of people detained 

Speaking to the Police Superintendents' Association annual conference by video link, Priti Patel (pictured in Downing Street today) said she would not allow XR to cause 'anarchy'

Speaking to the Police Superintendents’ Association annual conference by video link, Priti Patel (pictured in Downing Street today) said she would not allow XR to cause ‘anarchy’








XR's printing press blockade in Hertfordshire at the weekend left some newsagents' shelves empty

XR’s printing press blockade in Hertfordshire at the weekend left some newsagents’ shelves empty

Meanwhile, the Independent newspaper columnist who masterminded the Extinction Rebellion blockade of printworks has claimed that the British media is worse than the Nazis. 

More than 100 protesters targeted Newsprinters printing works at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and Knowsley, near Liverpool, last Friday night, blocking newspapers from leaving the depots.

Donnachadh McCarthy, 61, has emerged as one of the leading figures in the group, and justified the attack on press freedom by saying: ‘This is like World War Two and you guys [the newspapers] are on the other side. That is how we see it.  It puts you on the side of the existential threat. 

‘It is a different existential threat but it is a bigger one than the Nazis.’

As well as his role as a columnist for the Independent, he is a former deputy chairman of the Liberal Democrats and has appeared on the BBC.

Mr McCarthy attended the protest at the printing plant in Broxbourne on Friday night, briefing journalists at the scene. In total, 77 people have been charged for the disruption at both printing sites. 

Fifty-one people have been charged after the demonstration in Hertfordshire, which began at around 10pm on Friday and ended at 11am on Saturday morning.

Natalie Brecht, 45, who gave no address was remanded in custody to appear before Hatfield Magistrates’ Court today. 50 have been released on bail to appear at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on November 27.

Donnachadh McCarthy, 61, attended the protest at the printing plant in Broxbourne on Friday night, briefing journalists at the scene

Donnachadh McCarthy, 61, attended the protest at the printing plant in Broxbourne on Friday night, briefing journalists at the scene

Extinction Rebellion protestors block access of a printing house in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, leaving some newsagents' shelves empty on Saturday morning

Extinction Rebellion protestors block access of a printing house in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, leaving some newsagents’ shelves empty on Saturday morning

On Friday, XR activists erected platforms made from bamboo to block the road along with two vans, preventing police from clearing the site. 

Although he was at the scene, Mr McCarthy insisted he had nothing to do with the paper blockade.

However, he outlined a proposal called ‘the Great March for Truth and Blockade’ last year, sending it to XR’s so-called action circle. 

In it, he identified the Broxbourne site as ‘very vulnerable to a mass blockade’. 

His comments have been slammed, with Tobias Ellwood, a former Army captain and chairman for the Defence select committee, telling the Times: ‘It is a tasteless comparison to make. To even use such language shows their immaturity and shows they should not be taken seriously.

‘If there are any sensible voices among Extinction Rebellion, they should be distancing themselves from such inflammatory language.’

Critics of the blockade have called it an attack on the free press after XR prevented hundreds of newspapers from being delivered.   

The Home Secretary has ordered a review of the law aimed at toughening sentences for the environmental extremists after they blockaded newspaper print works in a bid to stifle free speech.

Options being considered include designating the group as an organised crime gang, which would leave militants open to the threat of up to five years in jail. 

The 51 Extinction Rebellion activists charged over the blockade of printing presses in Hertfordshire 

  • Natalie Brecht, 45, who gave no address was remanded in custody to appear before Hatfield Magistrates’ Court today. 
  • Sally Davidson, aged 33, from Byards Croft, London
  • Christopher Smith, aged 43, of Blagdon Road, New Malden
  • Will Farbrother, aged 39, of Forest Road, Walthamstow
  • Sarah Ingram, aged 39, of Hervey Road, Kidbrooke, London
  • Steve Tooze, aged 56, of Railton Road, London
  • Richard Felgate, aged 28, of Forest Road, Walthamstow
  • Rosamund Frost, aged 29, of Wyatt Park Road, London
  • Joel Scott-Halkes, aged 28, of Thistlewaite Road, London
  • Tim Jones, aged 37, of Wyatt Park Road, London
  • Christine Kelly, aged 61, of Coppetts Road, London
  • Gillian Fletcher, aged 58, of Clifton Road, Wokingham
  • Luke Whiting, aged 24, of Grove Road, London
  • Cleodie Rickard, aged 24, of Roman Road, London
  • Lucy Porter, aged 45, of Craig Hill Road, Bradford
  • Susan Hampton, aged 64, of Lincoln Court, Berkhamsted
  • Liam Norton, aged 35, of Esplanade Gardens, Scarborough
  • Eleanor Bujak, aged 27, of Bracey Street, London
  • Laura Frandsen, aged 30, of Waller Road, London
  • Emma Cooper, aged 29, of Marriott Road, Smethwick
  • Casper Hughes, aged 49, of Commercial Road, Exeter
  • Tristain Strange, aged 38, of Tennyson Street, Swindon
  • Elise Yarde, aged 32, of Gainsford Road, London
  • Amir Jones, aged 39, Fletcher Street, London
  • Mandy Leathers, aged 53, of Springfield Avenue, Bury St Edmunds
  • Janna Goldstein, aged 26, of Essex Street, Birmingham
  • Gail Thomas, aged 51, of Broad Street, Stamford
  • Craig Scudder, aged 54, of Cornwall Road, Harpenden
  • Rebeccah Plenderleith, aged 50, of Peacocks Close, Berkhamsted
  • Bethany Mogie, aged 38, of Kingsbury Avenue, St Albans
  • Alice Holmes, aged 37, of Broad Street, Stamford
  • Graham Cox, aged 58, of The Shrubbery, Hemel Hempstead
  • James Ozden, aged 34, The Avenue, London
  • Thomas Lee Newman, aged 29, of Swan Hill, Bradford
  • Nicola Stickall, aged 50, of High Road, Needham, Norfolk
  • Edward Tombes, aged 59, of Highbury New Park, Islington
  • Eleanor McAree, aged 26, of Ongar Road, Brentwood
  • Ben Ramos Wheeler, aged 19, of Cooks Road, Kennington
  • Samina Bunker, aged 38, of Forest Road, Waltham Forest
  • Ryan Simmons, aged 34, of Meliot Road, Lewisham
  • Charlotte Kirin, aged 51, of Peckham Street, Bury St Edmunds
  • Morgan Trowland, aged 37, of Massie Road, London
  • Timothy Spears, aged 35, of Forest Road, Waltham Forest
  • Hazel Steson, aged 56, of Ummars Road, Bury St Edmonds
  • Gilbert Murrey, aged 62, of Hawthorne Avenue, Norwich
  • Mark Fletcher, aged 45, of Alexandra House, Norwich
  • Gabriela Ditton, aged 26, of Silver Road, Norwich
  • Robert MacKenzie, aged 64, of Ipswich Road, Long Stratton, Norwich
  • Christopher Ford, aged 43, of Carlton Way, Cambridge
  • Jennifer Parkhouse, aged 68, of Vale Green, Norwich
  • Michelle MacDonagh, aged 33, of Hazel Way, Chipstead, Coulsdon, Surrey.
 

Why I rebelled against Extinction Rebellion… and went nuclear: In an astonishing and brave volte-face, the eco-group’s ex-spokesperson ZION LIGHTS reveals why she has changed tack over the future of energy

By Zion Lights for the Daily Mail 

Like many people, I’m planning a small gathering this weekend while government rules still allow, heading to a stretch of beach for a picnic.

My choice of venue is arguably a little less orthodox, however: I’ll be camping out on the precise stretch of shingle in Suffolk over which the Sizewell nuclear plant looms.

It’s not an obvious spot, especially for someone who has long prided herself on being a passionate and committed environmentalist and who until earlier this year was spokesperson for the direct action group Extinction Rebellion, or XR.

Certainly there are several people in that organisation who will be horrified by the very notion of going anywhere near Sizewell — but unlike me, many of them refuse to confront what I believe is an undeniable truth: that a pivot to nuclear power is the only thing that can truly rescue us from our burgeoning energy and climate crisis.

Former Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Zion Lights appears on Good Morning Britain in October last year

Former Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Zion Lights appears on Good Morning Britain in October last year

Doomsday

Yet like so many lobby groups, my old colleagues peddle messages of doomsday gloom that alienate as much as they motivate, offering little in the way of positive solutions. It is scaremongering rather than inspiring, and while for a time I aligned myself with their world view — and their tactics — in recent months I have come to see things differently.

In fact, after years as a member of one campaigning group or another, I now believe passionately that environmentalism — that umbrella term for the loose collection of organisations that have existed for decades trying to bring about an end to climate change — has failed.

By that I mean that for all the picketing, and the direct action, and the exhortations to use less fuel, fly less and conserve water, nothing has really made a difference to how we choose to live. Day after day, we still hear of energy crises around the world, increasing drought and wildfires, and species facing extinction. 

Turn the clock back 30 years, and I was hearing much the same messages in the classroom at my Birmingham comprehensive school. Some of the words and the numbers may have changed, but not much else.

It certainly lit a fire in me: growing up in a working-class, inner-city area, the daughter of immigrants from the Punjab who worked punishing hours in factories to make ends meet, I was an unlikely budding environmental campaigner.

But by the time I went to university I helped found a green organisation and later joined the Green Party. 

From there I joined another small climate action group, but when it died out I stayed out of activism for a while to concentrate on my own freelance writing, taking a Masters in science communication because, unlike the slightly ‘crazy hippy’ connotations my unusual name may conjure, I’ve always been a firm believer in following the science. 

I was fully briefed and confident, my mind whirling with rubber-stamped facts and figures — until he confronted me with one figure I couldn’t defend. It was co-founder Roger Hallam’s claim that unless climate change was halted, six billion people would die this century (Pictured: Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Roger Hallam)

I was fully briefed and confident, my mind whirling with rubber-stamped facts and figures — until he confronted me with one figure I couldn’t defend. It was co-founder Roger Hallam’s claim that unless climate change was halted, six billion people would die this century (Pictured: Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion Roger Hallam)

Disorder

It’s one reason I was first attracted to XR. Their mantra — initially anyway — was ‘listen to the scientists’. So when they gave me the role of a spokesperson, it felt like I had a platform to talk about what I truly felt mattered.

That is, until in early October last year, when I appeared on current affairs programme the Andrew Neil Show on behalf of the organisation.

I was fully briefed and confident, my mind whirling with rubber-stamped facts and figures — until he confronted me with one figure I couldn’t defend. It was co-founder Roger Hallam’s claim that unless climate change was halted, six billion people would die this century.

It’s a headline-grabbing assertion — but unfortunately, it’s also not true, or certainly not backed up by any evidence. As was obvious to anyone who knows me — and even to the casual viewer — I was plunged into a PR nightmare.

I could not defend the number, but as the official spokesperson nor could I be seen to condemn it.

All I could do, instead, was flounder under the hot glare of the studio lights for what felt like an eternity.

Even now, the memory of it makes me shiver.

It proved to be the beginning of the end of my relationship with XR: whether it was hate mail from XR supporters accusing me of letting the organisation down, or more measured messages from colleagues saying we could ‘get’ scientists to back up Hallam’s claim, it was clear that my world view and theirs were parting ways.

Then, less than two weeks later, XR members caused sizeable disorder at an East London Tube station, preventing commuters from getting to work.

The ploy made me deeply uneasy — while XR’s entire strategy is based on disruption, targeting London’s public transport network at rush hour felt beyond the pale.

I made it plain that it shouldn’t have been done, a sentiment that, in fairness, many other members came to acknowledge.

Then, less than two weeks later, XR members caused sizeable disorder at an East London Tube station, preventing commuters from getting to work. The ploy made me deeply uneasy — while XR’s entire strategy is based on disruption, targeting London’s public transport network at rush hour felt beyond the pale. (Pictured: XR conduct a protest at East London's Shadwell tube station in October last year)

Then, less than two weeks later, XR members caused sizeable disorder at an East London Tube station, preventing commuters from getting to work. The ploy made me deeply uneasy — while XR’s entire strategy is based on disruption, targeting London’s public transport network at rush hour felt beyond the pale. (Pictured: XR conduct a protest at East London’s Shadwell tube station in October last year)

Running parallel to this was my sense that like so many other environmental lobby groups before them, XR seem to have fallen into the trap of telling people what not to do, while also peddling the notion that the solution to the climate crisis was to ‘turn back the clock’ to a simpler time.

It’s something that has long infuriated me: try telling that to the people living in poverty in the Punjab. They want clean water, but they also want laptops. In short, they want what we here in the West have had for a long time — and it is rank hypocrisy for those of us who have benefited from the comfortable advances in technology in recent years to suggest they can’t have it.

For that, of course, you need energy. But while renewable energy can and should be part of the mix in supplying energy to the UK and the rest of the world, the reality is that there is only one reliable, low-carbon energy source that we can invest in now.

Barricade

It’s why, in June, I resigned from XR and took a new role overseeing British campaign group Environmental Progress UK, which is campaigning in particular for the creation of the mooted Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk.

It’s a decision that led to some abusive messages from a small cohort of my old colleagues, wedded to the ancient image of atom bombs and weapons instead of life-changing electricity and a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. Yet the reality remains, if we are going to service our ever-burgeoning energy needs, then the only way forward is nuclear.

It’s one reason that instead of trying to barricade the gates of a newspaper plants or chaining myself to a barrier outside the Houses of Parliament I will be proudly holding a banner at my picnic this weekend, proclaiming something I believe to be true: Nuclear Saves Lives.

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