September 18, 2021

Extinction Rebellion: Climate protesters spray fake blood at Treasury

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Politicians have questioned the slow police response to a bungling Extinction Rebellion protest which saw an untaxed fire engine driven up to the doors of the Treasury and 1,800 litres of fake blood sprayed over street. 

The activists used an decommissioned, diesel-glugging fire engine and its hoses in an attempt to spray a message onto Treasury in Horse Guards Parade, but the hose broke and they were unable to control it before the liquid went everywhere.

Footage taken of the stunt suggests that not a single police officer was on the scene, let alone attempting to stop the protesters, when the incident began.

Around 30 officers later arrived on the scene but were seen surrounding the area while the group carried on their protest. Eight people, five men and three women, were later arrested for criminal damage. 

Tory MP David TC Davies told MailOnline ‘We were lucky it was just a group of climate change protesters with fake blood, next time it could be ISIS or Al Qaida with a machine gun. We need to make sure that government buildings are protected.’ 

Police officers were not present at the start of the protest despite the Treasury having been named and included on a map of buildings that Extinction Rebellion said they would target in a document published last week. 

Extinction Rebellion protesters have sprayed the treasury with fake blood in their latest stunt

The group quickly lost control of the hose and the red liquid sprayed into the road rather than onto the building

Footage of the protest shows the hapless group switching on the hose in an attempt to write a message on the front of the building – but the hosepipe broke almost instantly and the liquid instead went all over on the floor.

The protesters claim the government ‘only cares about economic growth’ and not the environment

Demonstrators (left to right) Phil Kingston, Diana Warner, Cathy Eastburn and Mark Ovland stand on top of the fire engine

Workers had to walk through the liquid this morning as they attempted to get into the building

Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that these anarchists seem able to act in this way with impunity.

‘The Police and the CPS should ensure they are all arrested and charged with criminal damage and the courts should ensure they have to clear up the mess they leave behind.

‘Perhaps Emma Thompson and their other wealthy friends could pay to ensure it is cleaned up rather than the taxpayer once again footing the bill for their appalling behaviour.’

Extinction Rebellion have named some those involved in the stunt as retired Bristol University lecturer Phil Kingston, 83, retired GP Diana Warner, 60, musician Cathy Eastburn, 52, forest school teacher Árainn Hawker, 48, Buddhist teacher Mark Ovland, 36, electrician Liam Norton, 34. 

Mr Kingston says he has been arrested five times already over previous protests, including when he clambered on to the roof of a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in east London.

Mr Ovland was one of a group of demonstrators who stripped off in the House of Commons in April. He was also one of the so-called ‘Totnes Two’ after gluing themselves to the door of an oil industry conference.

Ms Warner and Ms Eastburn were also previously arrested over London tube stop protests. 

Demonstraters Mark Ovland (left) and Cathy Eastburn (right) were later seen being led away by police

Another unidentified man was led away by officers, while a young woman sat on the curb with a red-stained jumper and hands

Environment protester Phil Kingston, who has previously been arrested five times for demonstrations, was on the fire engine

Mr Kingston was eventually brought down from the fire engine by police officers. There were at least 30 police officers at the scene and approximately 15 protesters

The Met Police tweeted: ‘Police were called at 10.17 to Horse Guards Rd #SW1. People on a privately owned fire engine had sprayed a liquid at the Treasury building. No reported injuries. 3 men and 1 woman were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. Local road closures are in place while police deal.

The force later added: ‘A total of eight people have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage; five men aged between 34 and 83, and three women aged between 34 and 60. The fire engine was seized and removed.’

The group, which has carried out a series of high-profile demonstrations in the capital this year, claims the government is funding ‘fossil exploration and carbon-intensive projects’. 

A Treasury spokesman said: ‘The UK is a world leader on climate change – having reduced its emissions by 42% between 1990 and 2017, while growing the economy by more than two thirds.

‘In June, we became the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming by 2050. We will continue to build on this proud record.’ 

TV news footage showed the group failing to control the hose as it sprayed Horse Guard’s Parade

Police have yet to comment on  incident, but arrived at the building in Horse Guards Parade shortly after the protest began

The group hoped to spray the building but their hose burst seconds after they switched it on and the liquid went on the floor

Police arrived on the scene shortly after the stunt.At least two people have been arrested for criminal damage, police say

Veteran protester Phil Kingston said in a statement: ‘I fight with all my being for my four grandchildren in this situation of existential danger. 

‘And I am a Christian who cares for the Earth as God’s Creation; and for the world’s poorest peoples whose experience of injustice draws a special love from God. I come to the Treasury to challenge these practices and to demand radical change in them.’

Extinction Rebellion said: ‘The Treasury has been frustrating efforts by other government departments to take action against climate change because it cares only about economic growth,’ one of the activists said. ‘It doesn’t see that eternal economic growth leads to climate death.’

‘The red symbolises the people dying now in the global south and also the people who are going to start dying from climate change all around the world if we do nothing.’

The Extinction Rebellion group disrupted London with 11 days of protests in April that it cast as the biggest act of civil disobedience in recent British history. 

Iconic locations were blocked, the Shell building defaced, trains stopped and Goldman Sachs targeted.

Last week, Extinction Rebellion published a map of 23 buildings it would be targeting in October. The Treasury was listed as number 10 on the list, but the group still managed to launch its protest without being challenged by police

At least three of those taking part in today’s actions have been arrested before: (left to right) Phil Kingston, 83, Buddhist teacher Mark Ovland, 36, and musician Cathy Eastburn, 52,

Protesters demands ‘would do more harm than good’

Dieter Helm says cutting UK emissions would lead to more emissions elsewhere in the world

Extinction Rebellion’s eagerness to cut the country’s emissions by 2025 would do more environmental harm than good, a UK Government tsar has claimed.

Dieter Helm, chairman of the Natural Capital Committee advisory group, said reaching the environment campaigners’ net-zero target would lead to an increase in pollution through imports.

Speaking in Edinburgh, the University of Oxford economics and energy policy professor said the group’s target would do ‘a hell of a lot of damage’ as carbon emissions would just be created elsewhere.

He told the PA news agency: ‘The cost will be so colossally high because you would have to change all existing capital stock – public resistance would be extremely destructive to dealing with it.

‘The only way to get emissions down really quickly here would be to stop Scottish industry then import the pollution – we will make the climate even worse.’

Prof Helm instead argues a net-zero carbon consumption would be a more effective way to reduce pollution.

He used the example of British Steel, whose closure would see a reduction in emissions being created in the UK but would then lead to the product being imported from countries like China.

He said: ‘Your impact on global warming will be to increase it.’

Prof Helm has argued for a single-level carbon tax to be introduced and for those who contribute to a net reduction in pollution to receive payment.

His three principles for a 25-year green plan are public money for public goods, polluters must pay, and there should be an environmental gain.

He said there has been a “wake-up call” that efforts to tackle climate change have not been working, but he believes his policies could create sustainable economic growth while also tackling global warming.

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