Police carried out widespread abuses of power during Extinction Rebellion’s two weeks of protests in October, according to investigators who have collated dozens of reports from protesters.
The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) says it counted 521 reports by XR protesters of abuses of police power, including 200 accusations of rough handling and physical harm and 99 of intimidation or inappropriate behaviour.
Netpol’s report comes after the force’s own disability advisers accused officers of “degrading and humiliating” treatment of disabled activists and judges in the high court opened the way for mass legal action against the police by quashing the force’s attempt to ban the protests.
Sam Walton, a member of Netpol’s steering committee and an author of the report, said: “The key conclusion is that police were more interested in preventing Extinction Rebellion’s protests than in facilitating them.
“In doing that they systematically discriminated against disabled protesters, they used excessive force, and they used their section 14 powers to delegitimise protesters as citizens with rights. We hope that this scrutiny of the policing of XR leads to the bodies that hold police to account actually taking some action.”
Between 7 and 19 October, protesters staged dozens of demonstrations around Westminster and the City of London financial district as part of XR’s “autumn rebellion”, with the aim of raising awareness of the lack of government action over the climate and ecological crisis. Read more