Climate change protesters must move or be arrested as police cut down tents in a bid to reopen roads in the capital.
Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters camped out in central London overnight but officers have begun cutting people out of their tents using scissors, and say they will arrest anyone who does not move to the authorised protest area.
Footage from the roads around Trafalgar Square show officers dismantling tents as people sit inside.
Some people appear determined to stay where they are. Those who are lying in the roads are being carried away by officers.
Police had arrested 152 people by 4pm and imposed a Section 14 order on protesters this afternoon, which means any assembly linked with XR’s “Autumn Uprising” must be at Trafalgar Square and the pedestrianised area around Nelson’s Column only.
The new condition does not have a time limit.
Sky’s home affairs correspondent Mark White, at the scene, said: “This is an escalation of tactics now from police. They told protesters at various locations, including Whitehall, that under the order they’ve got to vacate this way and move up to the main central plaza in Trafalgar Square.
“There is nothing delicate about this – they are cutting their way through the tents.
“If they have to cut the tent from around the protesters, that’s exactly what they’ll do. They’re determined to get control of this main road in central London.”
Anyone who doesn’t want to move is being arrested.
In a statement, Met Police said: “In order to impose this condition, the Met required evidence that serious disruption was being caused to communities in London.
“The Met believes that this action is necessary in order to prevent the demonstrations from causing serious disruption to the community.
“Anyone who fails to comply with the condition is liable to arrest and prosecution.”
The Metropolitan Police said they arrested 319 people yesterday, far more than the 122 arrests made on the first day of protests in April.
Boris Johnson has called the protesters “uncooperative crusties” and said they should abandon their “help-smelling bivouacs”.
Earlier, officers had told those who camped out overnight to move along, but demonstrators glued themselves to the Department for Transport building, a tactic used during similar protests earlier this year and deployed by climate change activists worldwide.
They also locked themselves to cars.
Despite being told to move on, many of the 200 or so protesters who camped out in Westminster have indicated they are willing to stay there longer.
Mike Gumn, 33, from Bristol, an NHS manager, said: “I have a job, I have taken annual leave to be here.
“I’d rather be with my family.
“I want to make a statement that (the activists) are all different sorts of people from all different walks of life, not just people you would call hippies.”
He added: “We will decide as a group when we are going to move, and we are not going to let police tell us when.
“I would not like to get arrested, but if that happens when I am exercising my right to protest and deliver a good life for my children, then I will take it on the chin.”
One activist, called Rob, was locked to the top of a trailer parked in Trafalgar Square for 28 hours before he was forcibly removed by five police officers.
He said: “It’s a story to tell my grandchildren.
“It’s to show in a completely non-violent way that we’re willing to disrupt what we call order now and business as usual. To highlight what needs to be done.
“We won’t tolerate business as usual. We mean no harm to anyone we know we’re inconveniencing.”
Protesters also include former Met Police detective sergeant John Curran, who was arrested when he protested in April, and is willing to be arrested again.
The 49-year-old guitar maker said: “Clearly there is some frustration (for the police) that they probably have better things to be doing, and I agree, but the responsibility for that must lie with the government.
“Take action, and we won’t have to be here.”
The protesters are calling on the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, to act immediately to halt wildlife loss, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025.
They also want the government create a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Activist Glenn Drake, 65, brandished a sign reading: “Boris, sort climate change first, (then) prorogue Brexit.”
Mr Drake, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, said: “I voted for Brexit, mainly because I don’t want to be part of a federal Europe.
“But because of the urgency of climate change, we need to put aside Brexit.
“No one can agree on it, the country is 50/50 split, so let’s put that aside and let’s concentrate on the main issue, and that’s climate change.”
Protests across the UK are planned to continue for two weeks and are part of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations around the world.