London

Extinction Rebellion: London climate protest 'ending on Thursday'

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Media captionPolice have cleared the final Extinction Rebellion road block at Marble Arch

A climate protest that has disrupted parts of London for nine days is to end on Thursday, organisers say.

Police cleared Extinction Rebellion's final road block in Marble Arch earlier and arrested 22 people, bringing the total to 1,088 since protests began.

Specialist equipment has been deployed in Parliament Square to remove protesters camping in trees.

Makeshift camps at Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge were removed earlier in the week.

One protester told the BBC: "This is our last stand."

Organisers said a closing ceremony would be held at 18:00 BST on Thursday at Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park.

'Huge challenge'

"We will leave the physical locations but a space for truth-telling has been opened up in the world," they said in a statement.

"We know we have disrupted your lives. We do not do this lightly. We only do this because this is an emergency."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he welcomed the decision to cease the protests, which had been a "huge challenge for our over-stretched and under-resourced Metropolitan Police".

Image copyright Extinction Rebellion
Image caption Protesters at Parliament Square have been camped in trees for nearly a week, organisers said

So far 69 people have been charged in connection with the protest, the Met Police said.

Police have extended restrictions at the Marble Arch site, preventing protesters congregating on the road, until Saturday afternoon.

A senior Scotland Yard officer has warned that officers will require new powers to deal with demonstrations on a similar scale in the future.

Giving evidence to the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Commander Adrian Usher, head of the Metropolitan Police's protection command, said it should not be enough for a protest to be "peaceful" to be considered lawful.

"We will conduct a sober review of our tactics against recent protests, but I think it is likely to say the legislation associated with policing protest is quite dated and that policing and protest has moved on and that legislation should follow suit," he said.

Image copyright Extinction Rebellion
Image caption A protester climbed a lamp post an unfurled a banner at Marble Arch
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police chiefs have called for greater powers to clear peaceful protests on the scale of Extinction Rebellion

Earlier, Extinction Rebellion Youth handed a letter addressed to MPs, to Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.

In response, Ms Abbott said MPs needed to come together to host a "broad conversation" on bringing the country's greenhouse gas emissions down.

Campaigners have issued three core demands to the government: to "tell the truth about climate change"; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens' assembly to oversee progress.

Image copyright Extinction Rebellion
Image caption In a letter to MPs Extinction Rebellion Youth said: "We are asking you to hear the science, to feel the public's change of heart and to act now to save our futures"

Elliott Cuciurean, 20, believed to be the first climate activist successfully prosecuted over the fresh wave of protests, was spared a fine at a court hearing on Tuesday.

More actions are expected in the future.

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