“You can’t arrest your way out of this”- Just Stop Oil supporters march down Whitehall

Just Stop Oil supporters are marching towards the end of their third week, demanding that the UK government immediately halt all future licences and consents for fossil fuel exploration in the UK. [1]

At 9 am, a group of around 20 mostly student Just Stop Oil supporters began marching at Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. By 9:30am all had been arrested, by a group of around 50 officers.

One of those marching today is Alex De Koning, 25, an PhD Climate Scientist from Newcastle. He said:

“There are more solutions to the climate crisis than I have time to tell you about. But with this criminal government in the driver’s seat on the highway to hell, there is only one solution that really matters: mass civil resistance. And deep down, you know that I am right. So what are you waiting for? We are in the middle of a crippling cost of living crisis and a chilling climate crisis. Yet, our insanely rich leaders are happy to continue to let us suffer in order to make themselves richer.”

“What we do as scientists means nothing if the government is not willing to implement the solutions we already have. While they continue to subsidise the insanely profitable and criminal oil industry, everything else we do is just mopping up with the petrol tap open.”

Another of those marching today is Matilda Denniston, 20, a politics student, from Brighton. She said:

“I am marching today because new oil, gas and coal is a death sentence for the young and for the people already disproportionately impacted by the crisis today. I refuse to stand by and watch my government sign away our lives for profit. I’m marching with Just Stop Oil because everything that we know and love is on the line. I shouldn’t have to be here, nor do I want to be doing this, but I have no other choice.”

Yesterday, at Highbury Magistrates Court three young Just Stop Oil supporters were remanded to prison for marching in the road. Ruby Hamill, 19, who will next appear in court on the 14th December. As well as Chiara Sarti, 24, and Phoebe Plummer, 22 who will next appear in court on the 30th November. [2][3]

They were among 42 people who were held in police custody after marching on Wednesday. 37 of those arrested on Wednesday appeared in courts across London on Thursday where 33 were released on bail. In addition to the three remanded to prison, one person was remanded overnight to appear in court Friday. Five people from Wednesday’s march remain in police custody for a second night. 

Another 17 Just Stop Oil supporters were arrested near Shepherds Bush on Thursday after marching in the road, bringing the total number of arrests since October 30th to 556. There are currently 28 people being held for court.

In addition to the three people remanded yesterday, there are currently three Just Stop Oil supporters held in prison, including Sam Griffiths, remanded without trial and two who have now been imprisoned for over a year for nonviolent direct action. Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker have been sentenced to 3 years and 2 years and 7 months respectively, in the longest sentences ever awarded for peaceful direct action. [4]

A large uptick in the number of people being held for court combined with a lack of court slots means the police are now holding people illegally for days without seeing a judge. HMCTS is running extra court sessions from 4-8pm. The news has caused consternation among lawyers who have long-resisted Ministry of Justice attempts to introduce extended working hours beyond the usual 10 am to 4.30pm court day. [5]

This week, the Metropolitan Police Federation warned that policing ongoing protests in London was becoming unsustainable, echoing events that unfurled in the Netherlands recently. Sustained blocking of the A12 motorway near the Hague inflicted so much pressure on Dutch police, that the government there was forced to negotiate with those blocking the road; eventually leading to the government voting to end fossil fuel subsidies. [6][7]

Continued expansion of new oil and gas will bring about the wholesale destruction of ordered society and an end to the rule of law. We are not prepared to watch while the government continues to serve the interests of a few, to the detriment of everyone else. It’s up to all of us to come together and resist. It is the will of the vast majority of people that we end new oil and gas and together we can make it happen.

12pm, Saturday November 18th, People vs Oil, the people are marching as one. Our government is waging war on its people, and we’re fighting back. They’re imprisoning peaceful protestors, protecting the real criminals, and licensing more than 100 new oil and gas projects. We’re coming together to demand an end to new oil and gas. Meeting at Jubilee Gardens near the London Eye at midday. [8]


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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects.

Just Stop Oil ‘Blue Lights’ policy: our policy is, and has always been, to move out of the way for emergency vehicles with siren sounding and ‘blue lights’ on. 

[2] https://juststopoil.org/2023/11/16/we-wont-let-them-get-away-with-mass-murder-for-the-sake-of-greed/

[3] https://juststopoil.org/2023/11/16/how-many-people-will-die-before-you-stop-sending-people-like-me-to-prison/

[4] https://juststopoil.org/2023/04/21/bridge-climbers-get-3-years-in-longest-ever-sentence-for-peaceful-climate-action/

[5] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/courts-protest-just-stop-oil-palestine-justice-b1120290.html

[6] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2023/11/13/met-police-palestine-marches-london-christmas-unsustainable/

[7] https://extinctionrebellion.nl/a12-blockades-netherlands-effective-lower-house-asks-cabinet-for-phase-out-plan-for-fossil-fuel-subsidies/

[8] https://actionnetwork.org/forms/people-vs-oil-march