Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Arrested protester: ‘I’ve no regrets’

Arrested protester: ‘I’ve no regrets’

A MAN from Henley who was arrested during the climate protests in London says he has no regrets.

Ed Atkinson, of Queen Street, was one of a number of residents who joined the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in the capital over the past two weeks.

Thousands of people have taken part in the protests, calling on the Government to take action on climate change.

Hundreds have been arrested for actions such as gluing themselves to government buildings.

Boris Johnson called
the campaigners
“unco-operative crusties” after they caused disruption around Westminster.

Mr Atkinson was arrested in the early hours of Thursday last week after being chained to a fellow activist for several hours on the streets near Downing Street.

Police said he was held on suspicion of being a public assembly participant who failed to comply with conditions.

He was taken to Brixton police station but later released and is still under investigation.

Mr Atkinson had spent several days demonstrating with his wife Maggie and other members of the Henley branch of Extinction Rebellion while dressed as a bee.

He said: “At the start of this particular part of the demonstrations there were around 200 people, of whom 10 were happy to be arrested and wanted to disobey the instructions of the police when they told us to leave.

“We had the company of eight or so police officers around us. They were waiting for us to get cold because they had taken our blankets away. They hoped we would give up.

“As you can imagine, the police were very professional and friendly to a degree. They took the time to listen to us on a one-to-one level and I am sure some of them agreed with us.

“But they were just trying to do their job and I am sure they had better things to be doing.

“The second time they came through everyone was removed from the street and a few people were actually picked up and dragged off by the police.

“It was a strange feeling to be against the police because of all the lovely work they do on a daily basis but this is what happens when the climate crisis reaches a point where it takes over as the priority.

“People were locking themselves to each other or different objects and I was locked to a Buddhist.”

Mr Atkinson, whose grandmother Kate Le Lasheur was arrested as part of the Suffragette movement a century ago, said the experience made him feel uneasy.

He said “It was all very strange and I was deeply nervous. All the feelings I had before the demonstrations about what I was going to do in that situation were conflicting.

“But I am the sort of person who will jump in with both feet once I have decided I am part of something so my instinct took over.

“Even though I was conflicted, it was my decision to take and we are doing this as a group — this is not just me.

“We have been ignored for decades and carbon emissions are still increasing. We have been told by some experts how long we might have left, so what do we do — carry on the same by being polite and asking your local MP to raise the matter in parliament?

“We have already done that but it has gone up in smoke and they have missed the window of opportunity.”

Extinction Rebellion, which is calling for zero carbon emission by 2025, is an international movement whose members use non-violent methods of protest.

Many of the protesters dressed up as a bee as they see a link between the extinction of bees and humanity.

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