Nearly 30,000 Extinction Rebellion activists to flood Westminster during London Marathon weekend

Extinction Rebellion will be joined by 200 other organisations and threatened to “step up” protests if the government does not agree to talks

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Almost 30,000 Extinction Rebellion activists are set to flood Westminster this weekend coinciding with the London Marathon.

The environmental group alongside dozens of other organisations including GreenPeace and the PCS Union will be protesting from Friday (21 April) to Monday (24 April) in an event called ‘The Big One’.

The protests will coincide with the London Marathon which is taking place on Sunday and the group has said there could be some logistical disruption, but insisted the protests “are not intended for public disruption”.

Event director of the London Marathon Hugh Brasher said organisers of the Marathon had been in contact with Extinction Rebellion for months and the group has “assured” them “that they do not wish to disrupt”.

He added that spectators should still avoid Parliament Square which will be busy with protesters, and instead watch the race from other locations.

Extinction Rebellion is demanding the government agrees to start talks on two of its demands by 5pm on Monday (24 April).

Nearly 30,000 XR activists to flood London during marathon weekend. (Photo:  XR Global Media) Nearly 30,000 XR activists to flood London during marathon weekend. (Photo:  XR Global Media)
Nearly 30,000 XR activists to flood London during marathon weekend. (Photo: XR Global Media)

The group is calling on ministers to end all licences, funding and approval for new oil and gas projects - and wants the government to create “emergency citizens assemblies” to tackle the climate crisis.

The activists said if the government doesn’t respond, the group will have “no choice” but to call on those protesters who took action over the weekend to step up protests.

During a joint news conference, Extinction Rebellion, Global Justice Now, Don’t Pay UK and PCS Union, said the escalated protests would take three forms including joining picket lines “in solidarity” with strikers and organising locally.

They threatened to “disobey” but when pushed by journalists on what their new ways of campaigning would involve they remained vague saying it would depend on the person.

Nick Dearden from Global Justice Now said: "It could well mean direct action or civil disobedience, but it’s not going to be the same for everybody... There are many, many different tactics.”

Luke Tryl, UK director of research consultancy More in Common, said previous extreme tactics seen by groups like Extinction Rebellion had put some people off the climate movement.

He said: "In fact only 22% of the public say they think Extinction Rebellion has been a force for good, and there is a real danger that a further round of disruptive protests will ultimately do more harm than good for the cause of motivating climate action."

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: "While we respect the right to protest, people’s day-to-day lives should not be disrupted, and criminal activity will not be tolerated - and neither will demands on the government issued in this way.

"These protestors fail to recognise our world-leading efforts towards achieving net zero, including cutting our emissions by 48%, whilst growing the economy by 65% between 1990 and 2021."