Police arrest 23 eco-activists for blocking busy road around London after protests sparked anger among drivers & online.
UK police arrested 23 activists from environmental group Insulate Britain who have been blocking a major motorway encircling the capital. The protests led to fierce arguments with drivers and triggered hate online.
For the fifth time in over a week, the activists – in orange safety vests – sat on the pavement blocking traffic down the M25, a major ring road around Greater London, on Tuesday morning. Police dragged the activists away, allowing the vehicles to carry on with their journey.
Surrey Police said 23 people were arrested. This adds to the 41 arrests made for blocking the M25 and A1(M) motorways on Monday. The move came after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps denounced the protests as irresponsible and dangerous and urged police to react quicker.
Protesters want the government to insulate all leaky homes in the country by 2025, starting with social housing. They also demand a state-funded programme for a “full low-energy and low-carbon whole-house retrofit” of all UK homes by 2030, as part of a national strategy to rid the economy of fossil fuels.
The blocking of busy roads has drawn a lot of ire on social media, with many demanding that activists get punished for disrupting people’s daily lives. “This reckless protesting must stop today!!” an angry commenter wrote.
On Monday, LBC radio shared a video of a disgruntled driver arguing with protesters at the M25. “I completely agree that this is a really, really good idea. But this is not the way to do it! You’re causing more pollution by all these cars just sitting here,” the man argued.
“This is ridiculous. You’re not helping your cause – you’re making people hate you!”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a similar point earlier, suggesting that Insulate Britain’s actions undermine their cause.
Calling in to LBC, another person claimed that his mother has been left partially paralysed from a stroke after a car rushing her to a hospital was caught up in traffic for about six hours due to the M25 protest.
The activists, meanwhile, remained unabashed, and some online have argued that more people suffer from climate change than from traffic disruption. “[The driver] was really angry that we were sitting here and blocking the traffic, even though we’re doing so because there is no other thing that we can do. We tried everything,” an activist said in a video published by Insulate Britain.
In a statement to the media, the environmentalist group’s spokesperson Lima Norton said: “The idea that people would suddenly decide insulating our leaky homes is a bad idea as a result of our campaign is frankly laughable.” He added the group wants the government “to get on the job” in terms of addressing the threats stemming from climate change.