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COMMUTERS have clashed with environmental protesters after Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists attempted to shut down London trains.
An activist who climbed on top of a Tube train at Canning Town during rush hour was violently dragged off by angry passengers this morning.
A journalist filming the incident had to be physically protected from the mob.
Police made around eight arrests for obstruction of railways in east London at Canning Town, Stratford and Shadwell.
The incidents sparked a fierce debate over XR’s tactics, amid a High Court battle to lift a police ban on the group’s rolling demonstrations.
Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Let’s be frank, if we are going to effectively decarbonise we need more people using our public transport network and more investment in the green alternatives this provides.”
Mr Cortes, who has previously signed a letter condemning the Met Police for banning XR’s peaceful protests, said he had not changed his mind on it.
He added: “But protesters should be mindful that what they have done today is simply inconvenienced ordinary working people trying to get on with their lives and trying to work on the most carbon emission friendly options available to them to date.”
The RMT union said it was their members caught in the middle of “these grossly irresponsible actions,” and called on XR to stop targeting the Tube network.
XR said in a statement that it regretted that there was violence.
The group pledged to look at ways to bring people together rather than create “unnecessary division” and said that the protesters at Canning Town “did not take this action lightly.”
Hours later, XR suffered another setback when its lawyers were refused an urgent High Court hearing into the London-wide ban on its protests.
Mr Justice Dingemans said that the case raised important issues and could not be rushed.
He said the case would be heard next Thursday, after XR’s fortnight-long “Autumn Rebellion” has ended this Saturday.
Meanwhile judges at the court of appeal heard that a third runway at Heathrow airport would have “widespread environmental consequences.”
Campaigners trying to block the airport’s expansion, including a group of councils, environmental charities and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, are bringing a legal challenge over the government’s approval of controversial plans for the extra runway.
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