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Police outnumber protesters only to disappear when more activists swarm area

Police outnumber protesters only to disappear when more activists swarm area

The majority of climate change protesters at Oxford Circus in London have finally been moved on by police officers – only to go to Hyde Park instead, where thousands are celebrating an international cannabis day. Popularised in the US, 420 is a day that sees cannabis smokers celebrate the drug and it seems several protesters have decided

The majority of climate change protesters at Oxford Circus in London have finally been moved on by police officers – only to go to Hyde Park instead, where thousands are celebrating an international cannabis day.

Popularised in the US, 420 is a day that sees cannabis smokers celebrate the drug and it seems several protesters have decided to join in. 

People were pictured with bongs at the park while climate protesters could be seen dancing and enjoying the festivities. 

London has been hit by consecutive days of protests all over the city and, as of 4pm, 750 people have been arrested with 28 protesters charged following the six days of demonstrations.

Today Met Police Crime Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had one message for the protesters, and that was to protest where it was lawful, or go home.

Speaking on Sky News she said the force has had around 1,500 officers working to police these protests.  

‘It’s had an impact not just on the police obviously but on Londoners in general. Lots of people have had miserable disruption to their lives and I’ve got one message for the protesters, and that is please go to Marble Arch where you can protest lawfully, stop your unlawful protests and if you don’t want to go to Marble Arch then go home.’

Asked whether or not she has sympathy for the businesses which would have been disrupted by the protests this week she said all Londoners would have sympathy with them and that some would be able to cope better with losses than others.   

Police officers keep watch as climate change activists continue to block the road at Oxford Circus in London on the sixth day of an environmental protest by the Extinction Rebellion

Police officers keep watch as climate change activists continue to block the road at Oxford Circus in London on the sixth day of an environmental protest by the Extinction Rebellion

Popularised in the US, 420 is a day that sees cannabis smokers celebrate the drug and it seems several protesters have decided to join in

Popularised in the US, 420 is a day that sees cannabis smokers celebrate the drug and it seems several protesters have decided to join in

Appearing on Sky News, Cressida Dick (pictured above) said that protesters needed to move to Marble Arch where they could continue to protest lawfully

Appearing on Sky News, Cressida Dick (pictured above) said that protesters needed to move to Marble Arch where they could continue to protest lawfully

‘It is clear that by stopping for example Oxford Circus and stopping the through route up from Waterloo Bridge it is affecting businesses in all kind of ways. People are losing money, it’s also affecting people who want to get about London whether that’s for work or tourist reasons and its affecting everyone in the West End.

 ‘I’ve been walking about there today and I can assure you that many people are fed up – they are coming up to me and saying that these protesters don’t realise the impact they are having on people like me.’

The activists were also in a celebratory mood earlier this morning after they defied police officers who threatened to arrest them.

Officers had said they would arrest any activists found camped out after 10.30am on a busy junction of Oxford Circus – but they withdrew from the scene just an hour later.

This allowed the small crowd of protesters, which numbered just 30 at the start of the day and was outnumbered by around 50 officers, to swell as it approached midday. 

Some were heard saying that they were headed to Hyde Park later in the day to celebrate 420. 

Eventually, police officers returned to remove protesters while fellow activists cheered and chanted slogans at them.  

Some protesters were overheard saying they were going to go to Hyde Park, where thousands are coming together to celebrate 420, an international cannabis celebration day

Some protesters were overheard saying they were going to go to Hyde Park, where thousands are coming together to celebrate 420, an international cannabis celebration day

This map shows the journey that some of the protesters took as they moved from Oxford Circus to Hyde Park to mark the 420 day

This map shows the journey that some of the protesters took as they moved from Oxford Circus to Hyde Park to mark the 420 day

After repeated warnings from police officers, the protesters were eventually arrested and removed from Oxford Circus

After repeated warnings from police officers, the protesters were eventually arrested and removed from Oxford Circus

Police officers took over the site of the protest at Oxford Circus today, moving and removing demonstrators after 1pm

Police officers took over the site of the protest at Oxford Circus today, moving and removing demonstrators after 1pm

The blockade of Waterloo Bridge also continued today, with protesters adding a truck to their line.  

Police tried to force protesters away from Oxford Circus and other locations in London, filtering them to Marble Arch. 

A statement from the force said: ‘We are trying our best to give the businesses a chance to return to ”business as usual”.’ 

Oxford Circus protesters were repeatedly threatened with arrest throughout the day, though discussions between officers and demonstrators saw police backtrack.

As the day went on, police stayed at the scene in vans, but there were few officers on the street. 

However, they eventually arrived at Oxford Circus en-masse, forcibly removing any protesters they came across.  

They cleared out the area and retained a strong presence, blocking any other activists from gathering.  

Members of the climate change Extinction Rebellion joined in with the Hyde Park celebrations, playing music and dancing as they marked 420

Members of the climate change Extinction Rebellion joined in with the Hyde Park celebrations, playing music and dancing as they marked 420

Some of the protesters at Oxford Circus were heard saying that they were headed to Hyde Park later in the day to celebrate 420

Some of the protesters at Oxford Circus were heard saying that they were headed to Hyde Park later in the day to celebrate 420

Thousands of people are believed to have descended on Hyde Park today to celebrate the annual cannabis event, 420

Thousands of people are believed to have descended on Hyde Park today to celebrate the annual cannabis event, 420

Popularised in the US, 420 is a day that sees cannabis smokers celebrate the drug and it seems several protesters have decided to join in

Popularised in the US, 420 is a day that sees cannabis smokers celebrate the drug and it seems several protesters have decided to join in

The park was filled with crowds of people with members of the climate change protest believed to have also attended

The park was filled with crowds of people with members of the climate change protest believed to have also attended

Residents said that the park smelled strongly of marijuana and there was music and food as people marked the annual celebration

Residents said that the park smelled strongly of marijuana and there was music and food as people marked the annual celebration

At the start of today's Oxford Circus protest at 10.30am, there were more police officers than demonstrators as they threatened activists with arrests

At the start of today’s Oxford Circus protest at 10.30am, there were more police officers than demonstrators as they threatened activists with arrests

However, an hour later police had dispersed, leaving just a few officers on the ground as the crowd of protesters swelled towards midday

However, an hour later police had dispersed, leaving just a few officers on the ground as the crowd of protesters swelled towards midday

Spirits were high as the protesters sang and chanted while blocking the street, without any police officers seemingly in sight

Spirits were high as the protesters sang and chanted while blocking the street, without any police officers seemingly in sight

They held banners proclaiming 'we are the boat' in reference to the pink boat that was removed by police officers after it had become a symbol of the protest

They held banners proclaiming ‘we are the boat’ in reference to the pink boat that was removed by police officers after it had become a symbol of the protest

Close to 1pm, police officers descended on the protesters, arresting and removing them from the scene, carrying some of them

Close to 1pm, police officers descended on the protesters, arresting and removing them from the scene, carrying some of them

They hoisted some of the protesters into the air and carried them away, while other demonstrators cheered and chanted

They hoisted some of the protesters into the air and carried them away, while other demonstrators cheered and chanted

Rebecca Johnson, who was at the scene as a legal observer, said: ‘I’m here as a legal observer. People have come here to stop traffic and to stop London and say ”wake up we have to do something now to prevent climate destruction escalating”. 

‘We were facing nuclear war but here everyone has come together. This has got to be the right use of everybody’s time, we are sleepwalking into a climate catastrophe.

‘I cannot emphasise enough if we don’t act now it will be too late. We want to make sure protesters know what their right are.’ 

One father, who was at the protest with his wife and children, said: ‘I’d be happy to get arrested but it’s difficult with my kids here.’

They instead directed protesters who wished to continue demonstrating to go to Marble Arch or risk being arrested

They instead directed protesters who wished to continue demonstrating to go to Marble Arch or risk being arrested

Climate change activists sit atop a lorry as they continue to block Waterloo Bridge for a sixth consecutive day this morning

Climate change activists sit atop a lorry as they continue to block Waterloo Bridge for a sixth consecutive day this morning

A climate change activist meditates as demonstrators continue to block Waterloo Bridge in London on the sixth day of an environmental protest by the Extinction Rebellion group

A climate change activist meditates as demonstrators continue to block Waterloo Bridge in London on the sixth day of an environmental protest by the Extinction Rebellion group

An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator wearing an owl mask on Waterloo Bridge during today's protest from climate change activists

An Extinction Rebellion demonstrator wearing an owl mask on Waterloo Bridge during today’s protest from climate change activists

Another, named Rory, said: ‘I’ve been here since 9pm last night we were very thin on the ground because the boat got taken yesterday. There were only 15/20 people were here last night.

‘I’m going to carry on doing it till Monday but I’m working on Tuesday.’ 

Protester Katie said: ‘I’ve been coming everyday because I care about our future and I want to show the government that our collective voices can be powerful and do mean something. We made a collective decision to stay out here today when police said we would be arrested and look what happened, our voices are powerful’.

Police added: ‘One thing that is unusual about this demonstration is the willingness of those participating to be arrested and also their lack of resistance to the arrests.’

As of 10am, more than 715 people have been arrested with 28 protesters charged following the six days of demonstrations

As of 10am, more than 715 people have been arrested with 28 protesters charged following the six days of demonstrations

Although the numbers were drastically lower than they were on previous days, dozens still turned out to protest at several sites in London

Although the numbers were drastically lower than they were on previous days, dozens still turned out to protest at several sites in London

This week’s Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrations have closed key routes through the capital, cost businesses tens of millions in lost revenue, inconvenienced half a million people a day, and resulted in at least 682 arrests, but show no sign of abating.

Yesterday organisers said they had seen an increase in people joining up, pointing to warm weather, the Easter holiday, and a David Attenborough documentary about climate change broadcast on Thursday evening as motivators. 

The overstretched Met issued a plea that the willingness of so many people to be arrested was causing a ‘logistical problem’ for cell space and the wider criminal justice system. 

Yesterday Dame Emma Thompson poured scorn on the Metropolitan Police’s decision to escalate its approach on the fifth day of the protests having taken a hammering for its light-touch strategy earlier in the week.

She said: ‘We didn’t ask for police resources, that is their decision. It’s not like we are burning things down. The police turned up because they have been asked to turn up. They decided to spend their money in this way, which I personally think is a waste of taxpayers’ money. We aren’t doing anything violent.’



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