Busloads of grinning Extinction Rebellion supporters are arriving in London for the start of ‘The Big One’ today – the group’s four days of protests across the capital.
Members have started by setting up pickets outside Government buildings with the eco-protesters planning to target 15 departments between Friday and Monday as they vow to ‘unite to survive’.
50,000 supporters are flooding into London from all over the UK this morning but mystery remains about what direct action XR plans to take. Many have been sharing smiling selfies on social media – others are on the streets wearing gas masks, carrying placards and playing XR drums.
But its leadership has promised to avoid disrupting the London Marathon on Sunday, amid rumours Just Stop Oil and other splinter groups might target the world’s greatest running event.
XR is staging a four-day protest outside Parliament Square from Friday but has been in talks with the marathon race director to ensure minimal disruption.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘We’re expecting around 40,000-50,000 people to be outside Parliament over the weekend.’
A group of XR supporters are bussed into London for ‘The Big One’ – 50,000 are expected to be in the city for four days of action
Groups from Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol and other cities and towns are on their way to London today
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators take part in a protest outside Department for Transport in London
People take part in the “People’s Picket” as activists from the Extinction Rebellion demonstrate during the ‘The Big One’ event outside Parliament
XR outside The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s building this morning
XR protesters outside the DCMS building in central London as four days of protests begins
London Marathon director Hugh Brasher previously said his talks with Extinction Rebellion had prompted the agreement that ‘they will be uniquely asking all their participants to help guard the London Marathon’.
He said: ‘I trust Extinction Rebellion, they have been very clear of what they are doing and why. I hope Just Stop Oil and the other organisations listen to what we are saying.’
The environmental group’s spokeswoman said that while its stewards will protect the runners from the protest, ‘the whole thing has slightly been taken out of context’.
‘We’ve been in close collaboration with the London Marathon since last year so that our protest can co-exist with the marathon,’ she said.
‘We met them a couple of days ago and said that we were going to protect people from the protest, and I think what the media has taken that to mean is that we’re going to protect the race from other groups protesting.
‘Really what we meant by it was that we have stewards who will be helping to keep the area safe.’
She added that all the organisations signed up to take part in the protest have assured Extinction Rebellion they will not disrupt the marathon.
Just Stop Oil confirmed it had also been in talks with the marathon director, and activist Anna Holland told GB news: ‘I’m just going to say now: we’re not going to disrupt the marathon.
‘We do also encourage anyone who’s coming to the marathon to also join us to march for the climate because it’s so important.’
The eco-mob is itself plotting a huge protest in the centre of the capital from Friday to Monday, with organisers fearing that as many as 30,000 supporters could be in the Westminster area for the ‘final stretch’ of the marathon on Sunday.
XR’s programme for the protests initially stated that ‘the final stretch of the London Marathon will intersect with’ its rally, ‘providing an opportunity to connect with and support those running in the marathon for causes amplified by the climate crisis’.
But now Mr Brasher said the group are looking to ‘protect what is one of the crown jewels of British sport.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators take part in a protest outside Department for Transport
15 Government departments will be targeted today
Extinction Rebellion has agreed to stop protesters from disrupting the London Marathon after organisers struck a deal with the eco-zealots to help guard the race from their alliances at Just Stop Oil
The eco-mob is plotting a huge protest in the capital from Friday to Monday, with organisers fearing that as many as 30,000 supporters could be in the Westminster area for the ‘final stretch’ of the marathon on Sunday.
The event director told The Guardian on Wednesday: ‘They will be uniquely asking all their participants to help guard the TCS London Marathon. To do something that is quite unique in their history – to protect what is one of the crown jewels of British sport.
‘It is one of the crown jewels because the everyday person is competing and running those 26.2 miles at the time as Eilish McColgan, Sir Mo Farah, and when the greatest women’s endurance race in the history of our sport is taking place.
‘The London Marathon is unique,’ he added. ‘We run for clean air. That is so important in what we do. The environment is part of our DNA. And Extinction Rebellion has been very, very clear that they are in a new phase of wanting to engage the general public in a different way.’
London Marathon organisers had urged spectators to watch the iconic race from home amid fears of disruption.
Mr Brasher had advised people to ‘watch the marathon from other locations and avoid the Parliament Square area on the day’, as the square and ‘immediate surrounding area’ will be ‘very busy’.
It came as Energy Secretary Grant Shapps condemned XR for risking ‘creating massive disruption’ to the marathon.
Just Stop Oil, which disrupted the World Snooker Championship on Monday, would not say whether it plans to target the race.
Mr Brasher admitted that organisers had fears other groups were looking to cause similar disruption to that seen at the Grand National and World Snooker Championship this past week.
The unique arrangement came after event director Hugh Brasher (pictured) sat down in a meeting with Extinction Rebellion on Wednesday where the group were ‘very clear’ on wanting to ‘engage the general public in a different way’
Mr Brasher admitted that organisers had fears other groups were looking to cause similar disruption to that seen at the Grand National and World Snooker Championship this past week (pictured)
Militant animal rights activists Animal Rising stormed Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool after posing as racegoers, delaying the race as they were tackled by officials and officers
Militant animal rights activists Animal Rising stormed Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool after posing as racegoers, delaying the race as they were tackled by officials and officers.
And Just Stop Oil activists Edred Whittingham, 25, and his comrade Margaret Reid, 52, forced a World Championship snooker match at the Crucible to be cancelled after he leaped on a table and threw orange powder all over it. She failed to pull the same stunt after the referee stopped her.
Mr Brasher said he is looking to speak to Just Stop Oil, who intervened in last year’s race, in the next 24 hours to try ‘not to stop a race that raised £58.4million for charity last year’.
He explained that he is reaching out to the group after XR provided the contacts to speak to, adding that it ‘goes back to working together’ and will ask for help to protect the race ‘because of the good it does in society’.
XR co-founder Clare Farrell insisted the group has ‘no intention to disrupt their event’.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11998143/Laughing-eco-zealots-Extinction-Rebellion-pose-selfies-descend-London-TODAY.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270