Climate-change protesters shut down busy commuter routes during peak rush hour in London on Thursday, climbing onto trains and angering people on their way to work.
The activists, members of the group Extinction Rebellion, caused the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway to shut down after some of them climbed on top of and glued themselves to tube trains at several stations. Commuters attempted to drag protesters down from the trains and in some cases were recorded roughing them up.
An 83-year-old protester who glued his hand to the side of a train said he was “doing this for my grandchildren” in a video tweeted out by Extinction Rebellion.
The group originally said the civil disobedience was “necessary to highlight the emergency” but later appeared to reconsider.
“Was it the right thing to do? I am not sure,” a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion said. “I think we will have to have a period of reflection. It is too early to say.”
“None of us want to inconvenience ordinary people,” the group said. “That’s why we’re doing this in the morning when it will impact business as usual, and not in the evening, when people want to get home to be with their loved ones.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the protests, calling them “dangerous” and “unacceptable” and urging protesters to demonstrate peacefully.
“This illegal action is extremely dangerous, counterproductive, and is causing unacceptable disruption to Londoners who use public transportation to get to work,” Khan said in a statement. “It is also an unfair burden on our already overstretched police officers.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan of the London Police pleaded with commuters to allow officers to handle the protesters and refrain from engaging physically.
“It is important that commuters and other rail users allow the police, who are specially trained, to manage these incidents,” O’Callaghan said. “Unfortunately, there is still a risk that Extinction Rebellion will target the rail network during this evening’s peak. We will continue to have extra officers on patrol and will work to disrupt any potential criminal action before it happens.”