Just Stop Oil: 100 arrests as protests shut down Whitehall - as group hits out at cenotaph 'lies'
Just Stop Oil slow marchers shut down Whitehall on Monday, with the group saying at least 130 members were arrested
At least a hundred Just Stop Oil slow marchers have been arrested for refusing to move off the road at Whitehall, as the climate action group hit out at politicians who accused them of targeting the Cenotaph war memorial.
The protest action began at around 11.30am on Monday (6 November), effectively stopping traffic on the busy Central London road, which leads to Parliament. Protesters were calling for an end to new fossil fuel projects in the UK, amid media reports that the King's Speech may include a proposed government policy which would "lock in" oil and gas exploration licensing rounds each year for future governments.
The slow marches kicked off shortly after two other Just Stop Oil activists smashed the glass protecting the Rokeby Venus - a 17th century painting famously slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914 - at the National Portrait Gallery. The pair were also arrested.
In updates posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Metropolitan Police said they were on the scene as Just Stop Oil activists slow marched in the Whitehall area. After protesters failed to move off the road when asked, they started making arrests under Section 7 of the Public Order Act - a new legal power which allows police to remove protesters interfering with "key national infrastructure".
Within 15 minutes the force had arrested at least 40 activists who were slow marching, and posted "Whitehall is now clear". However, an hour later they say officers became aware of a second group of slow marchers in the area, who also did not comply with orders to move off the road. The Met Police said their early estimate was that there had been around 100 arrests total.
A number of politicians, including Labour's Yvette Cooper, made social media posts condemning Just Stop Oil for reportedly targeting Whitehall's Cenotaph - a war memorial monument. However, Just Stop Oil responded to condemn these comments as a "lie".
"They were marching towards Parliament Square before being arrested by police for protesting. Nothing to do with the Cenotaph," one Tweet said. "The reality is that they were dragged off the road and arrested by police for protesting in the street."
In a statement on the protest action, sent to NationalWorld, the group said at about 11.30 this morning, 130 Just Stop Oil supporters began marching down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square. Shortly before midday they began arresting Just Stop Oil supporters for allegedly breaching Section 7 of the Public Order Act 2023, "but they were unable to bring the march to a halt at this stage, and the supporters made their way to Parliament".
"By 12.13 all Just Stop Oil Supporters were arrested, with most peacefully refusing to comply with the police," they added. Monday marked the start of the group's second week of slow marching action, after a similar earlier campaign was paused. According to the Metropolitan Police, a total of 111 people were arrested last week, the group said.
One of those taking action today was named by Just Stop Oil as Laura Fretwell. She said: “I'm taking action with Just Stop Oil because if we don't end new oil and gas, everything we know and love will be destroyed because of the greed of a select few. The government needs to take drastic action now to prevent climate chaos. Their refusal to do so condemns us all.
“I will march, facing the threat of violence and arrest, because our children deserve better than to be living on a dying planet. We owe it to them to create a better world, as our elders have done for us.”