Dozens of Extinction Rebellion activists have carried out a mass act of non-violent civil disobedience by breaking bail conditions ordering them to stay away from the City of London financial district.
The activists joined with hundreds of supporters in a low-key rally outside the Bank of England on Thursday afternoon, listening to speeches from a mobile sound system.
XR said they had targeted the Bank because of its new remit to take environmental sustainability into account in its activities, and that protesters were willing to stay until its governor and the prime minister declared an end to all new fossil fuel funding.
Those breaking bail advertised their civil disobedience with signs bearing messages such as “arrested for sitting in a road”, “arrested for conspiracy to commit climate justice” and “arrested for caring about my grandchildren”.
Among them was Etienne Stott, who won gold in the canoe slalom for Britain in the 2012 London Olympics. He gave a speech publicly telling the crowd he was breaking the law by violating the conditions of his bail.
He told the Guardian: “I’m fed up of being criminalised for acting for the future of all life on Earth in a peaceful, disobedient and responsible way, and it feels quite wrong that I’ve been criminalised for doing what’s so logically and obviously the right thing, given the emergency situation that we are in.
“It seems to me completely sensible that our government stops its fossil fuel investments immediately, and yet I know they have got plans for a new oilfield in Shetland [and] a coalmine that’s in train.
“It’s just so wrong. It’s the height of stupidity; it’s madness.”