Nine arrested amid Extinction Rebellion 'protest of one' and 'Kill the Bill' demonstrations in London

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read

Watch: Hundreds march through central London for Kill the Bill protest

Nine people have been arrested after crowds descended on central London for Extinction Rebellion (XR) and 'Kill the Bill' demonstrations.

Climate activists staged a “protest of one" against the government’s lack of action from around 11am on Saturday – two years exactly since Parliament declared a climate emergency.

The stunt, organised by XR, sees individuals sitting alone in the middle of busy roads wearing signs with messages about their fears for the future.

Morgan Trowland, 38, glued himself to London's Tower Bridge, prompting City of London police to close it to southbound traffic.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) handout photo of Morgan Trowland, 38, blocking traffic on Tower Bridge in London, as hundreds of people are staging
Morgan Trowland, 38, blocking traffic on Tower Bridge in London, as hundreds of people are staging 'protest of one' road blocks. (PA)

The civil engineer from Hackney said: "I'm terrified that billions will die because of the climate crisis, humans and non-humans.

"I'm freaking out that many people are accepting this, or feel powerless to change the course. I want to show onlookers that we each have phenomenal power."

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Trowland was later arrested and charged with obstruction of a highway.

The action coincided with 'Kill the Bill' protests against against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill from midday.

 Protesters march through London during a Kill The Bill protest, one of 40 demonstrations arranged across the UK.
The protest is against the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill which would grant the police a range of new discretionary powers to shut down protests. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Protesters march through London during a 'Kill the Bill' protest, one of 40 demonstrations arranged across the UK. (Sipa USA)

Thousands of people gathered around Trafalgar Square and the Mall before heading towards the Home Office.

The protest, which was spearheaded by anti-domestic violence charity Sisters Uncut, also saw people holding Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter placards.

The proposed legislation, which would give police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on protests, was drafted partly in response to previous disruptive action by both groups.

Watch: Protesters change 'Kill the Bill' outside the Home Office in London

The Met Police tweeted that in total nine people were arrested with the protest reaching Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

Commander Simon Dobinson, of the Metropolitan Police, said ahead of the protests: "We have attempted to make contact with the organisers of Saturday's demonstrations.

"It is their responsibility to comply with the regulations and ensure their gathering is safe.

 Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square during the Kill The Bill protest in London.
A protest against the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill�which will grant the police a range of new discretionary powers to shut down protests. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square during the 'Kill The Bill' protest in London. (Sipa USA)

"Officers will be present to try to engage with protestors, to explain the restrictions, encourage compliance and take steps to enforce the restrictions if it is necessary to do so.

"Anyone intending to engage in violence or disorder needs to understand that police we will take steps to prevent that behaviour. We will not tolerate attacks on our officers and staff."

'Kill the Bill' protests were staged in Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle while XR protests also took place in cities like Nottingham, Birmingham, Oxford, Bradford and Swansea.

Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @dantendles of a protester blocking traffic in Oxford Circus, London, as hundreds of people are staging
Hundreds of people staged 'protest of one' road blocks to demonstrate against the Government's lack of action on climate change. (PA)

 A Home Office spokesman said: "The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of disruptive and dangerous tactics.

"It is totally unacceptable to smash up private property, block emergency vehicles and prevent the printing press from distributing newspapers.

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"The government will not stand by as the rights and freedoms of individuals, businesses and communities are trampled upon by a minority.

"These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard, but will prevent large scale disruption – enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives." 

Watch: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill What's in it and why it's caused controversy