A senior police officer has criticised eco-activists Extinction Rebellion for its “unreasonable” and “unlawful” tactics in the British capital, which has diverted police officers away from dealing with real, serious crimes.
Scotland Yard’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist made the remarks after the Metropolitan Police revealed it had arrested nearly 500 Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters in just the first eight days of its ‘Impossible Rebellion’ protest campaign, set to last two weeks.
“They have the right to protest and assemble together, but this right must be balanced with the rights of others — those wanting to go about their lawful business unimpeded and without disruption,” Assistant Commissioner Twist said in comments reported by the Evening Standard on Friday.
“They’ve blocked traffic on two of London’s busiest bridges, defaced iconic landmarks and disrupted critical road junctions. Commuters’ journeys have been delayed, businesses had deliveries cancelled and the owners of landmarks have faced costly repairs.
“This action is unfair, unreasonable and unlawful. To worsen matters, activists frustrate our response by setting up complex structures or by glueing and locking onto devices,” Twist said.
He added: “Every time several officers are needed to arrest a single activist, these are officers diverted from our number one priority, bearing down on violence. We are highly resilient but it is frustrating that communities are denied their officers in order to deal with a very protracted protest.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 24, 2021
Despite these protestations, Breitbart London filmed police in late August appearing to take a hands-off approach to policing such activists as around 1,000 of them shut down one of the busiest parts of the popular Covent Garden area — they erected a four-metre high pink table with the words “come to the table” written across it — only issuing a dispersal order towards the end of the day.
The government’s policing regulator, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), had previously criticised the force’s soft handling of XR and other far-left protest groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM).
Policing XR protests is also a great financial burden to Britons, costing taxpayers a reported £50 million in 2019 and 2020.
The green radical movement has bemoaned Met officers recently using force to halt attempts by XR to use a bus it had acquired to block London Bridge on Tuesday.
However, a YouGov poll from Friday suggests the average Briton does not hold a lot of sympathy for the group, with a plurality, 49 per cent, saying they had a negative view of XR — more than double that who had a positive view (19 per cent).
Nearly 500 Extinction Rebellion Activists Arrested in First Week of London Protests https://t.co/1xH1htfzLt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 1, 2021