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Climate group Extinction Rebellion vows to fight London, U.K. protest ban

WATCH: Extinction Rebellion co-founder hammers glass window at Department for Transport

Climate activists with the group Extinction Rebellion (XR) are facing a new hurdle in London, England after local police implemented a city-wide ban on their ongoing demonstrations.

Metropolitan police imposed the ban Monday night on “any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising.'” The order classifies an assembly as a gathering of two or more people.

It was reinforced by the British government.

“While we share the people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives,” a spokesperson said.

Police officers swooped in on demonstration sites shortly after the ban went into effect. The Guardian reported that hundreds of officers moved in on the group’s base camp in Trafalgar Square to clear it.

READ MORE: What is Extinction Rebellion and what does it want?

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But XR hasn’t backed down.

The group has vowed to fight the ban in court and defied the order on Tuesday morning, taking their movement to Britain’s transport ministry.

One of XR’s founders, Gail Bradbrook, climbed on top of the transport ministry building’s entrance and called on lawmakers to rethink a high-speed rail project, known as HS2.

The rail line is set to run through ancient woodlands. It has been touted by lawmakers as being more carbon-efficient than driving, as it would greatly reduce commute times between central and northern England and London.

XR activists have strongly opposed the project from the start.

Co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion group Gail Bradbrook sits atop the doorway into the Department of Transport during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London, Britain, October 15, 2019. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)
Co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion group Gail Bradbrook sits atop the doorway into the Department of Transport during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London, Britain, October 15, 2019. (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

Bradbrook, kneeling on the roof of the transport ministry entrance, called the rail line a “climate crime of a project.”

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“This is nature defending herself,” she said, before being arrested. “I’m doing this for your children.”

The demonstration is yet another display in a two-week effort by XR to highlight the growing climate crisis in cities around the world. The protests have so far drawn thousands of activists, celebrities, religious leaders and politicians.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson’s dad joins climate rally after PM calls activists ‘unco-operative crusties’

Some of the group’s Canadian arms took over key roadways and bridges earlier this month, including in Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto.

In London, nearly 1,500 people have been arrested so far. Metropolitan police said more than 90 arrests were made on Monday in the wake of the ban.

London activists have three demands, according to the Guardian. They include that the U.K. government be truthful about the climate emergency, the adoption of a zero-carbon target by 2025, and the installment of a citizens’ assembly to help guide future environmental policies.

The crackdown by Metropolitan police has garnered criticism from some, including politicians like Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who called the police efforts “a terrible sight in a democracy.”

Amnesty International U.K. has called the ban “chilling” and “unlawful.”

Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion turns to crowdfunding to cover legal fees
Climate activism group Extinction Rebellion turns to crowdfunding to cover legal fees

“The majority of those protesting have been doing so peacefully. Removing and prosecuting activists for engaging in non-violent direct action to raise their voice is deeply worrying. Overly harsh and disproportionate charges will have a chilling effect on rights,” Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International U.K.’s head of advocacy and programmes, said in a statement.

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“This is a heavy-handed and unacceptable move by the Metropolitan police.”

Police, however, said the protests are a “serious disruption to the community.”

READ MORE: Climate change activists block bridges, cause traffic chaos across Canada

“Since the beginning of this operation officers have been working hard to keep London moving,” Dept. Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said in a statement.

“There have been more than 1,400 arrests, and a number of people have been charged. The policing operation continues, and we will continue to take action against anyone engaged in unlawful protests at locations targeted by Extinction Rebellion.”

Some protesters locked themselves to a caravan outside Millbank Tower in London on Tuesday, according to Reuters. There were reports that some activists planned to occupy bridges across the Thames River later Tuesday and would hold another XR protest outside Buckingham Palace.

— With files from Reuters