Extinction Rebellion 'dropped 120 tonnes' of rubbish in London during last mass protest

·Freelance Writer
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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/08/25: Protesters hold a banner expressing their opinions during the demonstration.
On the 3rd day of Extinction Rebellion's protests, protesters came together with the aim of demanding climate justice for the Indigenous people of Amazon rainforests in Brazil. They protest against ecocide and deforestation in Brazil. The group began their demonstration outside Brazilian Embassy in London, then moved over to Piccadilly Circus, and lastly occupying Oxford Circus. (Photo by Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters hold a banner expressing their opinions during the third day of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in London. (Getty)

Extinction Rebellion (XR) have defended claims that they dropped 120 tonnes of rubbish during their previous London protest in 2019.

The climate protest group is currently demonstrating for a fourth day in the capital, demanding that the government immediately ends investment in fossil fuels.

Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for Cities of London and Westminster, told The Telegraph that the environmental activists cost the taxpayer £50,000 after they forced the shutdown of roads in London in October 2019.

She said: “I was told by the council that last time Extinction Rebellion were here for two weeks, they cleared 120 tonnes of rubbish left behind.

“That added £50,000 to their costs. This is local people's council tax.”

Police monitor as a climate activist perches on a make-shift structure in Oxford Street during the twelfth day of demonstrations by the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion, in London, on October 18, 2019. - The Extinction Rebellion pressure group has been staging 10 days of colourful but disruptive action across London and other global cities to draw attention to climate change. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Police monitor as an Extinction Rebellion activist perches on a make-shift structure in Oxford Street during demonstrations in London in October 2019. (Getty)

However, an XR spokesman said that the £50,000 figure was a “service cost”.

A spokesman said: “Council services… were temporarily redeployed during our two-week October 2019 protests,” adding that: “[There was] no additional money spent by the council and no additional cost to the taxpayer”.

Commenting on the claims of rubbish left behind following the protests, the spokesman added: “The 120 tons of rubbish collected took place over a two-week period. To put that figure into comparison, during London’s New Year celebrations 2016-17, Westminster cleared up 85 tonnes of rubbish from just one night.

Watch: XR protesters glue themselves to tarmac in London

“As anyone who has been to an Extinction Rebellion protest will know, we are scrupulous about clearing up after ourselves and ask rebels to respect the spaces they’re in and take their rubbish home.”

The number of people arrested at XR events in London in four days of protests has reached 236 as the environmental group targeted the Oxford Circus area.

The Metropolitan Police said the arrests, that were last updated at 9pm on Wednesday, were for a “variety of offences”.

However, XR said on Twitter that the government have labelled them “organised criminals” who “want to silence us”.

They added: “Yes we're organised (three occupations in so far!). And yes we're being criminalised.”

Dozens of people were seen being dragged away by officers on Wednesday afternoon after a large group blocked off the surrounding roads near Oxford Circus with a partially-built pink sculpture – putting traffic at a standstill.

The Met moved in after a van dropped off the sculpture and protesters formed a human chain to stop it being taken down, according to XR.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/08/25: Protesters seen sitting on the Streets while holding placards during the demonstration.
On the 3rd day of Extinction Rebellion's protests, protesters came together with the aim of demanding climate justice for the Indigenous people of Amazon rainforests in Brazil. They protest against ecocide and deforestation in Brazil. The group began their demonstration outside Brazilian Embassy in London, then moved over to Piccadilly Circus, and lastly occupying Oxford Circus. (Photo by Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters seen sitting on the ground while holding placards during the XR demonstration. (Getty)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/08/25: Protesters hold XR flags during the demonstration.
On the 3rd day of Extinction Rebellion's protests, protesters came together with the aim of demanding climate justice for the Indigenous people of Amazon rainforests in Brazil. They protest against ecocide and deforestation in Brazil. The group began their demonstration outside Brazilian Embassy in London, then moved over to Piccadilly Circus, and lastly occupying Oxford Circus. (Photo by Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters hold XR flags during the demonstration in London. (Getty)

A spokeswoman for the group told the PA news agency: “The police came charging in to try and stop it being built and rushed through the women to get to it, but the structure was already built by that point.

“Some people then began gluing themselves to the structure.”

XR appeared to insinuate that police were “sadists” after the force attempted to break up protesters.

They tweeted: “Unnecessary police violence escalates during UK's #ImpossibleRebellion, needlessly injuring activists fighting to save the planet.

Claiming an activist had her “glued hand ripped from the woman next to her”, XR added: “Policing and sadism needn't be synonymous.”

Police officers remove an Extinction Rebellion activist who had taken part in a pink roadblock of Oxford Circus by women and FINT-identifying environmental activists during the third day of Impossible Rebellion protests on 25th August 2021 in London, United Kingdom. Extinction Rebellion are calling on the UK government to cease all new fossil fuel investment with immediate effect. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Police officers remove an Extinction Rebellion activist who had taken part in a pink roadblock of Oxford Circus. (Getty)

Police had warned XR protesters to leave the area or face being arrested.

Earlier in the day, activists from Money Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, gathered at the Department for International Trade to hold a mock awards ceremony where a “Charred Earth” award was given to the department.

Other activists gathered at the Brazilian embassy to show solidarity with indigenous people in the Amazon Rainforest.

Metropolitan and other police officers prepare to remove and arrest Extinction Rebellion activists who had taken part in a pink roadblock of Oxford Circus by women and FINT-identifying environmental activists during the third day of Impossible Rebellion protests on 25th August 2021 in London, United Kingdom. Extinction Rebellion are calling on the UK government to cease all new fossil fuel investment with immediate effect. (photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Metropolitan and other police officers prepare to remove and arrest Extinction Rebellion activists who had taken part in a pink roadblock of Oxford Circus. (Getty)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 25, 2021 - Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion in Oxford Circus at the Impossible Rebellion. Protesters are arrested and carried away. (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Climate change protesters from Extinction Rebellion in Oxford Circus at the Impossible Rebellion. (Getty)

Activists from Animal Rebellion were also arrested after gluing themselves to windows and screens at the Leicester Square McDonald’s.

XR began its Impossible Rebellion protests on Monday when demonstrators blocked roads in central London, including around Trafalgar Square.

They are demanding the government immediately end investment in fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

The Met said a “significant” operation would be in place for the protests over the bank holiday weekend but also acknowledged the activists’ “important cause”.

Watch: XR protest outside Brazilian embassy over Amazon fears

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