NEWS
18/10/2019 7:43 AM AEDT

Extinction Rebellion Expresses 'Sadness' Over London Tube Violence, Invites Public To 'Conversation'

"Rather than let this incident divide – at this moment of heightened attention – we think it is right to reach out to you," climate change group says.

Extinction Rebellion has called the violent scenes during its protests targeting the London Underground “regretful” and expressed “sadness that events escalated this way”.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the climate change protest group invited those upset at the travel disruption to contact them and “have a conversation about what happened today”.

It added: “Rather than let this incident divide – at this moment of heightened attention – we think it is right to reach out to you.”

Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) latest protest took an ugly turn on Thursday morning, after a demonstrator was dragged from the top of a train carriage and set upon by angry commuters.

Footage posted to social media showed two men standing on top of a stationary train at Canning Town station, holding a sign that reads “Business as usual = death”.

Commuters trying to board appeared to be shouting and threw drinks at the men before one was dragged into the crowd.

British Transport Police confirmed eight people had been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the railway on Thursday morning and also urged commuters not to “take matters into their own hands”.

XR said: “In light of today’s events, Extinction Rebellion will be looking at ways to bring people together rather than create an unnecessary division. 

“The people involved today did not take this action lightly. They were a grandfather, an ex-buddhist teacher, a vicar and a former GP among others who acted out of rational fear for the future as this crisis deepens.

“We are aware that this action was divisive. We are a broad and diverse movement with a wide range of views, and are aware that many people were not for this action. Those that acted this morning planned their action autonomously, within Extinction Rebellion’s principles and values, centred around nonviolence and compassion.”

The targeting of London’s transport system drew wide condemnation, especially for comparing activists who stood on top of London Tube trains with civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

In a now-deleted tweet, the official Extinction Rebellion Twitter account wrote: “Rosa Parks refused to move from the white section of the bus and our rebels refused to bequeath a dying planet to future generations by failing to #ActNow.

“Our #InternationalRebellion against the complicity of our governments in the climate and ecological emergency continues.”

 

Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, asked: “So what point is Extinction Rebellion making shutting down east London’s public transport system, preventing ordinary people from getting to work, school, hospital?”

But XR co-founder Clare Farrell defended the Tube action and said: “The public, I don’t think, realise quite how serious this situation is.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned Thursday morning’s protest, calling it “an unfair burden on our already overstretched police officers”.