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2 Nov, 2022 07:23

Just Stop Oil campaigners arrested at 10 Downing Street

The protest movement announced a “pause” in its “campaign of civil resistance” after rushing the PM’s residence
Just Stop Oil campaigners arrested at 10 Downing Street

Environmental campaigners ‘Just Stop Oil’ rallied outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday to demand a moratorium on fossil fuel projects, before announcing a temporary “pause” to their controversial public stunts.

Wearing bright orange vests and surrounded by a horde of photographers, the protesters hoisted themselves over a low fence before posing in front of the gates outside the prime minister’s official residence. Others glued themselves to the road and unfurled banners. 

Police then arrived on the scene, arresting the demonstrators while a spokeswoman declared they were protesting because of government inaction on both the climate and cost-of-living crises.

In a Twitter thread documenting their protest, the group demanded a “serious windfall tax on big oil, without the get-out-of-jail-free tax credits that will encourage more oil and gas that we cannot afford.” The government, they said, must abandon “new oil and gas projects.” 

Another tweet, posted after the Downing Street stunt, promised to “pause [Just Stop Oil’s] campaign of civil resistance,” declaring the reprieve was meant to give “those in the government who are in touch with reality” a chance to “consider their responsibilities to the country at this time.” 

Should government ministers fail to respond adequately by Friday, however, “we will step up our legal disturbances against this traitorous government,” the group vowed, threatening new “actions” that would “be commensurate with the need to end the crime against humanity of new oil and gas developments.” 

In the last month, Just Stop Oil protesters have defaced multiple iconic artworks, including Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. The group is funded by the nonprofit Climate Emergency Fund, whose co-founder Aileen Getty is the heiress of Getty Oil. The fund provides grants to protesters that use ‘civil disobedience’ in the service of ending fossil fuel use.

The Climate Emergency Fund and its fellow travelers insist that they are “not trying to be popular,” arguing that it is better to be hated than ignored. However, others have argued stunts like Just Stop Oil’s food fights with priceless artwork – or an earlier assault by a group protesting private jets that drenched a memorial to beloved British Covid-19 fundraiser Captain Tom with human waste – hurt the environmental cause as activists come off looking unhinged and unreasonable.