police protest clampdownJust Stop Oil Supporters Arrested After ‘Blanket Ban’ Imposed on Their Peaceful Marches in London
Josiah Mortimer reports on a spree of arrests of peaceful protestors in the capital
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With additional reporting from Mic Wright.
Thirteen Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested and put in police custody after the Met Police imposed a controversial ban on the group marching peacefully in Westminster.
On Thursday morning, police issued a ‘Section 12’ notice covering the entirety of London’s roads and targeted at Just Stop Oil supporters. It bans them from marching on any road in the capital. No legal paperwork was provided to the groups, Just Stop Oil says.
At 8 am on Thursday, over 40 Just Stop Oil supporters set off from Charing Cross, marching down the Strand. Activists say that within 20 minutes, police threatened to impose arrests under the S12 notice as part of the Public Order Act.
The march continued on the pavement before some supporters returned to the road again on Whitehall. They were ordered off the road twice more until at Parliament Square police arrested a dozen supporters for breaching the Section 12 order which aims to curtail the risk of “serious disruption”.
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A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said the government “has taken away your right to peaceful protest. If you are not outraged by this, you are not paying attention.”
They added: “If we tolerate the crushing of peaceful dissent, regardless of whether we agree with each other or not, we no longer live in any sort of functional democracy.”
A spokesperson for the Met Police told Byline Times: “At 09:15hrs, police put a section 12 condition on Just Stop Oil, now at Parliament Square, to move out of the road to stop disruption to traffic. At 09:19hrs,  people who stayed on the road were arrested for breach of S12 condition. The road is now clear.”
No protester had been charged at the time of writing. A source in the group said: “There is usually no paperwork presented on the street for S12, you just have to take the officer’s word for it. The march was curtailed pretty swiftly today.
“Police station supporters are preparing for a long night. They seem to be expecting release in the wee small hours.”
The average custody period on Saturday – when dozens of Republican and climate protesters were arrested during the coronation – was 14 hours. Nearly all were released without charge. The arrests triggered widespread outrage over alleged abuse of police powers in the new Public Order Act.
Green Party Assembly Member Zack Polanski told Byline Times: “Protest is fundamental to our democracy. The Green Party opposed this new vague legislation both in the House of Commons and the Lords. We are now seeing the consequences of that vagueness and an increasingly authoritarian approach to policing.”
But a spokesperson for the Prime Minister defended the legislation, saying: “People are free to gather to demonstrate their views within the law. People also have the right to go about their daily lives. We’ve given the police the powers they have asked for.”
One of those taking action this morning, Sai Fingerhood, a veterinary pathologist and lecturer from Guildford, said: I feel it’s my moral obligation to do what I can to mitigate [the climate] catastrophe. Part of that is actively demanding an end to new oil licences and investment in alternative energy sources.”
Another of those taking action today, James Sebley, 38, an IT Engineer, from Fareham, said: “We need to keep the climate crisis at the top of the agenda, and because of how serious a threat it is to my children’s future and our entire civilisation.”
Today’s march comes after news of more extreme weather events impacting communities around the world. Flash flooding struck large parts of southern England this week, which led to a major incident being declared in Somerset.
Some areas saw more than two weeks’ worth of rainfall in the space of just a few hours. In Canada, Alberta has declared a state of emergency after wildfires have spread across the western province, driving nearly 25,000 people from their homes.
JSO says that since the campaign launched in February 2022, there have been over 2,100 arrests and 138 people have spent time in prison. There are currently two Just Stop Oil supporters serving three-year prison sentences for resisting new oil, gas and coal.
A spokesperson for the group added: “The time is now. Join us and slow march while you still can. Our indefinite campaign of civil resistance is underway and will not end until our government ends new oil, gas and coal.”
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