Ten people from Lewes are among hundreds of people who have been arrested following climate change protests in London, Extinction Rebellion Lewes said.
Dozens of activists from the town descended on the city on Monday (October 7), to participate in the ‘biggest ever’ Extinction Rebellion protest.
They were among 200 rebels from the south east who set up a camp outside Downing Street calling on the government to take urgent action on the climate and ecological crisis.
Despite swift action by police, they managed to occupy both lanes of Whitehall between the cenotaph and the Women of World War II memorial.
Other Extinction Rebellion groups subsequently established blockades at 12 sites across Westminster, including Trafalgar Square, the Mall, Horseguards Parade, and Lambeth and Westminster bridges.
They plan to hold the roads for at least two weeks, Extinction Rebellion Lewes said, in what is expected to be the biggest global act of non-violent civil disobedience in history.
Speaking in London on Monday, Dr Guy Prince, a geologist from Barcombe who helped take the road at Whitehall along with his eight-month-old baby, said: “I’m here because I see no other alternative.
“The science is telling us that we have to act with unprecedented urgency to stop runaway climate change.
“Last year in the UK heat and drought caused record crop failure, whilst farming yields elsewhere in Europe are being hit by global warming even worse.
“If this trend continues for just a few years many people in the UK could be facing starvation.
“Meanwhile, people around the world are already living in this nightmare scenario.”
Despite rain, cold and the threat of arrest on Monday, activists continued to occupy the site overnight.
A spokesman for the group said: “Two Lewes residents even glued their hands and feet to the road, making it more difficult to remove them.
“Many local activists had already indicated their willingness to be arrested.”
Claire Duc, who ran the Lewes Arms for eight years, said: “I fully realise that people who go on actions may get arrested, but I feel I have to be there for the sake of my grandchildren and great niece and nephews to try and make amends.
“The government and big business needs to tell the truth – there is a climate emergency and ecological disaster.
“We need to work together to ensure that things get no worse than they need to.”
On Tuesday (October 8), the Metropolitan Police imposed a condition upon the ongoing Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in central London.
The following condition was imposed under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986:
‘Any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’… who wish to continue with their assembly MUST go to Trafalgar Square and only assemble in the pedestrianised area around Trafalgar Column’.
The condition does not have a time limit, Met Police said. In order to impose this condition, the Met required evidence that serious disruption was being caused to communities in London.
A spokesman said: “The Met believes that this action is necessary in order to prevent the demonstrations from causing serious disruption to the community.
“Anyone who fails to comply with the condition is liable to arrest and prosecution.”
The Met confirmed on Tuesday that 261 people had been arrested as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.