Thursday 17 October 2019 4:30 am
However worthy their cause may be, eco-rebels are not above the law
Imagine a city in the grip of a crime wave, where the hard-pressed police have to draft in officers from other parts of the country to maintain order in an increasingly fractious situation, where ordinary citizens find their daily journeys to work and school disrupted, and where local businesses suffer the effects of day after day of unlawful activity.
Now imagine that in that same city, the local mayor has shown more sympathy with the forces the criminals are affiliated to than those of law and order trying to keep his city’s streets open. And that politicians from the rest of the country have chimed in with pious talk about how, while the ends may not justify the means, there is an important message about the crime spree that needs to be heard.
You might well be forgiven for thinking that this is some Latin American fable, with an ageing caudillo facing his just deserts from a restive population struggling for freedom.
But it turns out that the city in question is London, in 2019, in the grip of Extinction Rebellion bedlam for the second time in a matter of months that had seen 1,642 arrests as of yesterday morning.
The first time around, some of London’s main arteries were paralysed for weeks by a series of organised sit-ins that caught the authorities completely unaware. In some particularly shameful scenes, police officers were seen bantering with protestors rather than removing them, while ordinary Londoners filed past the protest camps making their lives a misery.
In their inaction, the police were further hindered by the attitude of some politicians, who were strangely reluctant to criticise disruption that affected hundreds of thousands of people and caused millions of pounds of economic damage in terms of transport chaos and lost business.
The Holy Grail of climate change was above questioning when it came to the awkward behaviour of those protesting it, or so it seemed.
This time, what initially seemed a carbon copy of the first incidence has panned out rather differently.
Having initially established command and control centres across Westminster – blocking key roads and bridges – the Extinction Rebellion street disruptors found themselves swiftly closed down by a diligent police force determined to use their powers to combat illegality and control public order offences.
Having agreed with the authorities to confine their protests to Trafalgar Square, the protestors broke their word – and the law – on several further occasions.
By Monday night, having had to enlist the support of police officers from Scotland to replenish their ranks, the Metropolitan Police judged the situation of continued disorder serious enough to justify an invocation of Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, banning all Extinction Rebellion gatherings.
And that ought to have been that. Except that in an astonishing turn of events, some of Britain’s politicians appear not to have read the script of mass illegality and seem intent on repeating their mistakes from the first bout of Extinction Rebellion madness.
London mayor Sadiq Khan announced that he was “seeking further information” about why the ban was necessary, saying he believed that “the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld”.
In Khan’s world, the 1,642 arrests to date clearly count for nothing in terms of lawfulness. Judging by the soaring crime rate in London under his watch, he perhaps ought to be grateful that the police are successfully arresting anyone.
Meanwhile, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Baroness Jenny Jones, along with Labour’s Clive Lewis and David Drew, have affixed their names to a legal challenge to the police decision.
Londoners will no doubt be overjoyed that MPs representing Brighton, Norwich and Stroud are taking such a keen interest in a matter affecting so few of their constituents, and that the human rights of protesters matter more to them than the human rights of those facing the effects of their protests.
There is of course a need for environmental activism in society. Climate change is one of the great issues of our time, and pivotal for the planet’s future.
But as those who have actually studied Extinction Rebellion in depth know, it is a group at odds with the good intentions of those who see it simply as a vehicle for action on climate change.
A recent Policy Exchange report showed that those at the heart of the movement have beliefs “rooted in the political extremism of anarchism, eco-socialism and radical anti-capitalist environmentalism”, which helps explain why chaos and disorder accompany its every move.
Extinction Rebellion is neither the first nor the last movement that will claim special dispensation for breaking the law because its message is just too important to abide by the rules. But regardless of the justness of the cause, we live in a democracy where the ballot box is the path to change, not unlawful direct action.
Until Extinction Rebellion protesters learn to abide by the same laws as the rest of us, they will not be the Messiah, but just some very naughty boys and girls.
City A.M.’s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.
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Extinction Rebellion ignore police ban to return to Trafalgar Square
POUND SINKS AS DUP SAYS IT ‘CANNOT SUPPORT’ BORIS JOHNSON’S BREXIT DEAL – CITYAM
Oh my God
BREXIT NEGOTIATORS WILL KEEP TALKING UNTIL ‘ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT’ AS SUMMIT LOOMS – CITYAM
Brexit talks will stretch until “one minute to midnight” in order to secure a last-minute deal at this week’s European Council, Downing Street sources said yesterdayI very much hope they succeed.
BRITAIN WOULD NOW VOTE TO STAY IN THE EU, MEGA-POLL REVEALS – CITYAM
So the referendum itself had a 52% V 48% majority to leave…After.three years of constant establishment and msm bombardment of remain propaganda…it now is 53% Remain Vs 47% to Remain…..we must change the outcome of the referendum itself ? A margin of 4% is too narrow to implement the result…but now a margin of 5% is ?
IN DEFENCE OF MY FRIEND DOMINIC CUMMINGS – CITYAM
You don’t seem to actually know him do you, you just wanted to spout the same tired partisan nonsense and insults. There’s literally no substance or justification to this piece’s argument, just that Dom made a supportive phone call 18 years ago. He’s made a hell of a lot of abusive ones since, to other people.I note the CityAM disclaimer about not necessarily endorsing the views, but publish ‘thought provoking views and debate’. The only thing thought provoking is that this piece was even deemed that, and worthy of publishing.Seriously, I obviously disagree with it, but there is no actual argument or substance!
A BREXIT DEAL IS WITHIN BORIS’ REACH
BREXIT EXTENSION BEYOND HALLOWEEN ‘NOW PRICED IN’ – CITYAM
Identify yourself if you need to be avoided!
ST JAMES’S PLACE PARTNERS THREATEN REBELLION OVER CANCELLED CRUISES – CITYAM
Really? Self-employed advisers stop writing business which generates their income due to a cancelled cruise? Sounds really believable
EXTINCTION REBELLION TARGETS BLACKROCK IN PROTEST OVER ‘CLIMATE CRIMINALS’ – CITYAM
As I have no belief in the supposedly deadly human-centred nature of all of this and to the wildly ridiculous claims of doom I just idly wonder how much we are all going to have to pay to cover the loss to the economy for all this disruption and just what tiny assistance to the whole matter the UK can make when countries like China and India etc dwarf into insignificance anything we might do.
COMRES BREXIT POLL INDICATES SUPPORT FOR RESPECTING BREXIT REFERENDUM
‘The motion was supported in every English region except for London’: i.e. less the most europhile city of England, and slightly the biggest.Some calcs: on 55millions Englishmen, voting age are 40millions, in 2018 (73%).This means that on 45 million inhabitants area (England minus London), voting age people are 33millions.54% of 33 miilions Englishmen favorable to Brexit means 17.8 milllions people, about the very same who voted for Brexit in 2016…
BREXIT DEAL TALKS FALTER AS DEADLINE LOOMS – CITYAM
bollocks to the EU….we just want OUT
DEBATE: IS NICOLA STURGEON OVERPLAYING HER HAND BY DEMANDING A SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM NEXT YEAR? – CITYAM
We voted to stay in the EU and the only way was to be stuck with the UK
VOTER ID IS A MISGUIDED SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM THAT DOESN’T EXIST – CITYAM
A cheaper alternative would be to store people’s photo along with the register. Those with photo ID could opt out and turn up with proof.There could also be a flag for similar looking photos (done via software).
FALLING FUEL PRICES HOLD UK INFLATION AT THREE-YEAR LOW – CITYAM
what falling fuel price you musn’t live in same country as me?
GOAL DROUGHT DRAGGING MANCHESTER UNITED TOWARDS RELEGATION ZONE – CITYAM
No strikers, no midfield, weak defence, goalkeeper who was good once but seems dispirited at present( rightfully so). We are skating on thin ice and as Big Sam Allardyce pointed out, a very real threat of relegation. A pathetic squad that would struggle even at Championship level.
JEREMY CORBYN IS DELUDED IF HE THINKS LABOUR IS REMOTELY READY FOR AN ELECTION – CITYAM
Good article with the exception of the finchley seat.This was due to the poll released yesterday that was done on behalf of Liberal democrats.I think looking at the description of the poll it was flawed and most probably was framed in that way in order to try to get a bandwagon going.
its not a worthy cause…its just a way for adults to miss work and be stupid..if I was their boss I would fire every one of them
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Remarkably the Manchester constabubble tried to charge a man dressed like this, with ‘ impersonation of a police officer ‘