Monday, May 29News For London

Police arrested 7 protesters who blocked central London road to demand action on air pollution

A protester dressed in hi-vis suit glued his hands to yellow breeze blocks. Photograph: Gareth Morris

Extinction Rebellion protesters glued 25 breeze barricades to the road to symbolize 25 Londoners who are killed each day by air pollution, while 6 of them glued their hands to concrete blocks.

Extinction Rebellion activists staged a demonstration called “The Air We Grieve” in London this morning. They blocked Cranbourne Street outside Leicester Square Station. This road was chosen because of its “high levels of air pollution.”

A small truck used as a roadblock was engraved with the slogan: “Air Pollution Kills 25 Londoners Each Day”.

An Extinction Rebellion protester outside Leicester Square tube station in central London. Photograph: Gareth Morris

According to Extinction Rebellion, 2 million people in London live in illegal air pollution, including 400,000 children. And toxic air kills 28,000 to 36,000 people every year across the UK. This protest, which is part of the Election Rebellion, aims to call for the next administration to take action in response to Britain’s deadly air pollution.

Extinction Rebellion claimed that police have arrested 7 activities of this protest. “We need a new government who will start arresting the real criminals”, Extinction Rebellion just responded on Twitter.

In February 2017, the European Commission issued a “final warning” to the UK over illegal levels of air pollution. Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, Rosamund Frost, said: “We are here demanding action on illegal levels of toxic air in our communities, our schools, and our streets. The government has neglected to tackle fatal levels of air pollution. How can we put our trust in them to address the broader climate and ecological emergency?”

“The government has been tried to do something about it but the policies have found it unlawful three times”, a protester, Vishal Chauhan said: “we need system change”.

Activists glued to yellow breeze-blocks representing the number of Londoners who die each day from air pollution. Photograph: Gareth Morrisy

Dr Alexandra Jellicoe, an environmental health scientist, thinks the protest helped build awareness that Air pollution has a big impact on people’s health. It would cause death, stroke, heart disease, brain disease and health defects in unborn babies.

The public has a different attitude towards such protests. Andrew Musgrove believes that disrupting people using public transport isn’t going to help with public support.

Meanwhile, another Extinction Rebellion protest, the Hunger Strike, is in its fourth week. Protesters, including Peter Cole, a 76 year-old grandfather and emeritus professor of respiratory medicine, have not eaten for 22 days.

They have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, inviting all party leaders and the media to meet them outside Conservative Party Headquarters to discuss climate and ecological emergencies today at 3pm.

Jonathan Hoare, head of the Extinction Rebellion Harrow, admitted that the action will continue, “hopefully the demand would be met, since the more people get on board and  the more politician would listen and hopefully, we could move forward”.