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Activism

Police arrest 119 people at protest to support jailed Insulate Britain activists

Activists blocked Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Cross in central London – in defiance of the same injunction that got their peers locked up.

Police arrested 119 people during protests to support the nine Insulate Britain activists who were jailed last week.

Over a hundred protesters blocked roads in central London on Saturday in defiance of the same injunction that got their peers locked up.

Police said they arrested 30 activists on Lambeth Bridge and 94 at Vauxhall Cross, with all later released under investigation.

The nine Insulate Britain protesters, dubbed the Highway Nine, were jailed on Wednesday for between three and six months after breaking a High Court injunction preventing them from blocking roads.

In response to the news, protesters carrying “Betrayed by my government” placards marched from the Royal Courts of Justice to Lambeth Bridge, which they blocked, before moving to nearby Vauxhall Cross.

A protester next to a police van during Saturday’s action. Image: Extinction Rebellion

Activists from Extinction Rebellion, as well as from Insulate Britain, took part in the protest.

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Insulate Britain predicts the prison sentences will be the first of many, and says another 23 of its activists are expecting court summons.

Activist Gully Bujack, who took part in Saturday’s protest, said: “The full force of the state and the judiciary is being wielded against us, to outlaw peaceful protest.

“We are now banned from protesting in the streets. But these streets are ours, and we must not allow ourselves to be driven from them – not now, when we have everything to lose. All roads are now historic sites of civil resistance. We are in resistance. And we call on everyone to join us.”

Ahead of last week’s hearing, Insulate Britain activists told The Big Issue they were fearing jail, but welcomed the higher profile granted by the process.

“It’s not something I want to do, but these issues are so important,” Dr Ben Buse, who has been jailed for four months, said. “If that’s the only way to keep the issue live and keep the pressure on government. We will see what the courts decide.”

James Taylor, who was also jailed for four months, said the group’s demands are simple.

“If the government is serious about taking real action, the very first thing they’d do is set up a national programme of home retrofits, and that’s what we’re demanding,” he said. “Like the NHS but for home retrofits.”

Update: The Metropolitan Police this morning said it had arrested 124 people at the protests, but this afternoon revised the figure down to 119 people.

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