More than 750 climate change activists blocking roads at some of London’s most famous landmarks have been arrested over the last six days, police said on Saturday, up from a Friday total of 682.
The protests, organized by climate group Extinction Rebellion, have for several days disrupted travel through parts of central London, including at Marble Arch and Waterloo Bridge.
The activists had also blocked the Oxford Circus shopping district, but by 1700 GMT the roads had been cleared by police and traffic was flowing again.
Extinction Rebellion has called for non-violent civil disobedience to force the British government to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025 and stop what it calls a global climate crisis.
Twenty-eight of those arrested had been charged with offences, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told BBC News that the protests had caused “miserable disruption”. She said there were now 1,500 police officers, up from 1,000 previously, working to clear the roads.
On Waterloo Bridge, which connects south and central London, a Reuters journalist said police had cleared away banners and obstructions like bales of hay and even a sofa.
But as of 1720 GMT, the area was still packed with activists, who remained good-humored.
The police reiterated that protests were only allowed to continue at Marble Arch.
“I’ve got one message for the protesters and that is: Please, go to Marble Arch where you can protest lawfully. Stop your unlawful protest, and if you don’t want to go to Marble Arch, then go home,” Dick said.
On Friday, well-known actor Emma Thompson joined activists at Oxford Circus, at the heart of one of the capital’s most popular shopping districts, to read poetry praising Earth’s bounties.
Reporting by Simon Dawson, writing by Andy Bruce; Editing by Alison Williams and David Holmes