Insulate Britain activists today had ink thrown into their faces as the campaign group blocked more roads during the morning rush-hour.
Campaigners from the Extinction Rebellion splinter group disrupted the slip road at junction 1a of the M25 – the UK’s busiest motorway – as well as the A40 in west London as part of a 16th day of “non-violent civil resistance” involving road blocks.
Other members of the group were arrested before they managed to block a roundabout close to the Dartford Crossing, Kent.
During the protests, many activists glued themselves to the tarmac, as well as to each other, as police tried to move them from the area.
During this morning’s activity, a man at one of the sites approached protesters sitting on the road and squirted a dark coloured substance on their faces, saying: “It’s ink”, before walking away.
Christian, 77, a retired doctor, told Greatest Hits Radio London News that it wasn’t painful, but it is “sad that we have to do this”.
He said: “I’m a retired doctor, I’ve spent my life trying to help people and I’m reduced to having to do this because the Government won’t address the problem adequately.”
One motorist expressed his annoyance by playing the bagpipes in protestors’ faces:
In an utterly bizarre development, one motorist just started playing bagpipes in protestors' faces before police mo… https://t.co/RNK1c3Gxjw— Ivor Bennett (@Ivor Bennett) 1635324871
Kent Police said 32 protesters, including four who were suspected of planning the disruption, were arrested, while the Metropolitan Police said 17 demonstrators were detained on the A40 junction.
During this morning’s protests police were seen trying to de-escalate tensions between motorists and protesters:
Protesters arrested by police in the car park of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Dartford BridgePA
#UPDATE | Officers have arrested 17 Insulate Britain activists for obstructing the highway at the A40 junction/Gyps… https://t.co/09i3v4DG49— Metropolitan Police Events (@Metropolitan Police Events) 1635331376
Speaking this morning from Dartford, Insulate Britain protester Amy Pritchard said they were initially planning on obstructing the roundabout but they have been prevented from entering it.
She said: “The police have not been charging us with anything or interviewing us. There’s been a political decision not to deal with us and we don’t want to be blocking roads, so it is fine. And we will continue until our demands are met and we are prevented from doing this.
“The decarbonisation at the speed and scale that is necessary is more important than the legal consequences for us all individually.”
She said she has been arrested 11 times since September 13.
Protesters from Insulate Britain are arrested by police in the car park of the DoubleTree Hilton at Dartford CrossingPA
Yesterday, the group had urged motorists to avoid the M25 and called for those who do need to use the road to cut their speed limit to 20mph “to minimise the risk of accidents”.
The protesters’ planned action was in response to a new injunction banning activities that obstruct traffic along the 4,3000-mile network of motorways and major roads in England. This is the fourth injunction taken out in response to Insulate Britain’s protests.
Activists have blocked roads since September 13, causing misery for drivers stuck in long queues of traffic.
The group wants the Government to insulate all UK homes by 2030 to cut carbon emissions.
Insulate Britain said in a statement: “We are not concerned with endless injunctions. We are not concerned with our fears. We are concerned with fulfilling our duties and responsibilities at this ‘period of consequence’.”
Meanwhile, transport secretary Grant Shapps said they are using “every avenue of existing law” to prevent the “life-endangering actions” of the group. He said a longer-term solution is in the changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which include “additional powers against disruptive protests”.
Such powers include unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to six months, Shapps said.
The Department for Transport said on Tuesday that more than 100 Insulate Britain activists have been served with court papers in relation to the injunctions.
What has happened so far this week?
The eco-warriors returned on Monday to block some of London’s busiest roads after pausing their demonstrations for almost two weeks.
Monday’s protest saw further clashes between drivers and protesters.
One motorist, whose father is ill with cancer, wished cancer on a protester’s family as the blockades were preventing his father from getting treatment.
Others glued themselves to the road, making it difficult for police to move them on. Some glued their hands and feet to the tarmac, while one man took it a step further and fixed his face to the floor.
How have people reacted?
People took to Twitter to share their reactions to the protests.
Some slammed the retaliation towards the protesters, with one Twitter user saying: “Retaliatory attacks aren’t the way”:
@NewsForAllUK An older gentleman, clearly shaken up. This isn't something to celebrate/glorify. I'm 100% opposed… https://t.co/UpfEvCPALX— TLBoy (@TLBoy) 1635323510
@NewsForAllUK Absolutely disgusting that someone did this to them.— ohdanieljames (@ohdanieljames) 1635323001
Several people said that “hitting the public is the wrong thing to do”:
@NewsForAllUK Ok, if you want to make a point why not go to a government building and protest instead of stopping J… https://t.co/gTObmzBjcG— Big Serge (@Big Serge) 1635322511
The #insulatebritian have lost the plot. Go and lobby the Government, the MPs, big corporations. You are not winnin… https://t.co/Lb4gwSLByB— 🅳🅴🅴 🦖 (@🅳🅴🅴 🦖) 1635320388
Others support the demonstrations, with one Twitter user saying such protests are a “last resort”:
@NewsForAllUK Please be more tolerant of protestors, they are trying to get the government to do what is right for… https://t.co/pJ9xM0HI2b— amanda mccall (@amanda mccall) 1635324386
#insulatebritian Just a thought. If protesters in the past had not used what were seen at the time as radical tacti… https://t.co/foW3bbM5Dv— Sgt M Klinger OBE, VD & Scar 🚲🏴🏊♂️ (@Sgt M Klinger OBE, VD & Scar 🚲🏴🏊♂️) 1635322113
Others however were less sympathetic towards protesters:
@NewsForAllUK Probably wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t sat in the middle of a busy road!— Chris (@Chris) 1635324835
@NewsForAllUK He is now retired and hates doing it 🤔. Seems he didn’t disrupt any traffic or people going to work w… https://t.co/oM0HzSly8B— Tea4One (@Tea4One) 1635322530
@NewsForAllUK https://t.co/NnLxvKB8pC— SIU (@SIU) 1635322300
Insulate Britain outside my work! I did walk down and told them they’re pathetic! 😂 but the video is too large to u… https://t.co/U93xjeOFZ0— Holly (@Holly) 1635321729
Additional reporting by PA.
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