Extinction Rebellion: Climate activists 'face full force of law'

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Media captionSpecialist police teams were used to remove the group from the DLR train

Police officers must use the “full force of the law” when dealing with Extinction Rebellion protesters in London, the home secretary has said.

Three people were remanded in custody after pleading not guilty over a protest on a train, while more than 425 others have been arrested since Monday.

Sajid Javid said the climate activists “have no right to cause misery” and the Met Police “must take a firm stance”.

Met chiefs have also condemned footage of officers dancing with protesters.

The videos posted on social media, which showed police officers joining activists at Oxford Circus on Wednesday evening, have been condemned as “unacceptable behaviour”.

“We expect our officers to engage with protestors but clearly their actions fall short of the tone of the policing operation,” Cdr Jane Connors said.

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About half a dozen activists were arrested in a space of 20 minutes at Oxford Circus

On Wednesday, a man glued himself to a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train carriage in Canary Wharf while a man and woman were removed from the roof

Cathy Eastburn, 51, from Lambeth in south London, Mark Ovland, 35 of Somerton in Somerset and Luke Watson, 29, of Manuden in Essex, appeared before Highbury Magistrates’ Court charged with obstructing trains or carriages on the railway.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charge and will next appear at Blackfriars Crown Court on 16 May.

British Transport Police said it “continues to deploy additional officers throughout the London rail network to deter and disrupt further protest activity”.

Heathrow Airport said it was “working with the authorities” following threats that protesters may try to disrupt flights over the Easter weekend.

Police have made further arrests, but activists continue to block traffic at four sites around the capital.

Marble Arch, Parliament Square, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge have been occupied by protesters since Monday.

Transport for London warned delays around those areas were expected “throughout the day”.

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Activists remain glued to a boat in the middle of Oxford Circus

Some protesters have been seen returning to the blockades despite being arrested.

Police action to deter activists was having the “opposite” effect, according to environmental scientist Dominic Goetz who has returned to Waterloo Bridge following his arrest on Tuesday.

“I don’t know whether I will be arrested again or not. If I am, I think the consequences will probably not be particularly severe,” the 47-year-old said.

In a letter to the home secretary, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan suggested cuts to police funding were restricting the Met’s ability to cope with the demonstrators.

A group of demonstrators has been blocking Vauxhall Bridge for short periods of time as part of a “swarming” protest.

Similar intermittent roadblocks have also been formed by activists at Piccadilly Circus.

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More than 425 people have been arrested since Monday

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook has warned that the group’s tactics could escalate “if our demands are not met”.

She said: “More people are joining us all the time. We’re having a fantastic time here.”

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said it was “very difficult” for police to deal with the activists as “we have never dealt with something like this before”.

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Demonstrators have been holding intermittent blockages on Vauxhall Bridge

What is Extinction Rebellion?

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Media captionThe co-founder of the protest group invites people to join

Since the group was set up last year, members have shut bridges, poured buckets of fake blood outside Downing Street, blockaded the BBC and stripped semi-naked in Parliament.

It has three core demands: for the government to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

Controversially, the group is trying to get as many people arrested as possible.

But critics say they cause unnecessary disruption and waste police time when forces are already overstretched.