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NEARLY 50,000 Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists gathered in Westminster, central London, today for the third day of its “The Big One” action as the London Marathon took place.
The race and the group’s rally intersected as runners passed Parliament at midday.
Police had raised concerns that the proximity of the two events could lead to the climate activists attempting to disrupt the annual race, but XR said they would not intentionally do so.
XR member Olly Baines said: “We have worked closely with the London Marathon over six months to make sure that we can safely co-exist during this weekend.
“[On Sunday], with the biggest march for nature ever to take place in the UK at the same time as the Mini Marathon, the two events passed peacefully and without incident.”
He said the same arrangement was being repeated today, adding: “We all want clean air, pure waters and a healthy green planet.
“We wish the marathon every success.”
XR activists were among the applauding onlookers as marathon runners passed.
The third day of action began with a rally with speakers from campaign groups Greenpeace and War on Want as well as actors, authors and comedians.
Activists unfurled a “climate emergency” banner in front of the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square.
In a statement, XR said: “In the time where politicians bully their staff, climate activists get put in prison for years, and extreme heat is killing people in India, it is clear the many crises we are facing are uniting the people on the streets into a single voice: we need action.
“Action to hold politicians accountable, to protect the people and stop criminalising those who are sounding the alarm [and] to stop contributing further to climate and ecological breakdown.”
Thousands of small pink paper boats were delivered to the Home Office after the rally against the government attacks on migrants seeking safety in Britain from dangers, including climate devastation.
Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters marched earlier today in central London and staged “die-ins” outside 16 government departments.
XR said that if the government fails to engage with the campaigners’ demands by 5pm today when the weekend of action comes to an end, the group will “step up our tactics.”
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