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West Midlands MEP arrested for taking part in Extinction Rebellion protests

By Peter Madeley | Politics | Published:

Green Party MEP Ellie Chowns was detained for a public order offence while demonstrating against climate change.

Green Party MEP Ellie Chowns was arrested on the streets of London

A West Midlands MEP was arrested after taking part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

Ellie Chowns said she was "defending the right to peaceful public protest" when she was arrested by officers in Trafalgar Square last night.

The Green Party MEP had been taking part in a demonstration against climate change which saw parts of London brought to a standstill, with protesters glueing themselves to railings and causing disruption to traffic.

She was detained for a public order offence after police announced a ban on demonstrators in the capital from 9pm last night. She has since been released.

Footage from the scene shows Dr Chowns, a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, being put in handcuffs as she is surrounded by three officers.

She can be heard to say: "This law is unjustified and unjust. The protesters are only making a peaceful protest. This is a climate emergency. We all need to take action."

Officers can be heard telling the crowd to stand back as the arrest takes place.

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Scott Ainslie, a Green Party MEP for London, said Dr Chowns was “singled out” by police for asking officers why they were attempting to clear Trafalgar Square.

In a video posted on Twitter he said: "My colleague Ellie Chowns has been arrested by the police. I asked the police to show me Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

"I can see absolutely no contravention from this act. These peaceful protesters... a site where all of the progressive changes that have happened in our country have happened in Trafalgar Square.

"Ellie was just very articulately making that point to the police. The police started taking umbrage to it, and now they have arrested her."

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Ellie Chowns (right) addresses police during the Extinction Rebellion protests

Mr Ainslie later told the Press Association that he and several supporters then travelled to Charing Cross police station, where Dr Chowns was being detained, in a show of solidarity with her.

“We are going to be singing Ode To Joy or something like that so that she can hear us supporting her," he said.

“This whole thing is ridiculous – the protesters have not been in contravention of the law, it has been peaceful throughout.”

"She has been taken to a police station."

Dr Chowns, who became the West Midlands' first ever Green Party MEP when she was elected in May, said on Twitter: "Last night I was arrested in Trafalgar Square while defending the right to peaceful public protest.

"That right is central to a functioning democracy. Yesterday, public protest was banned throughout our capital city.

"This is a completely unjustified and disproportionate measure."

So far more than 1,400 people have been arrested during protests, which have seen a huge national police deployment involving dozens of officers from West Midlands Police.

Police said they imposed the condition to clear Trafalgar Square under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

In-depth:

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “These conditions have been imposed due to the continued breaches of the section 14 condition previously implemented, and ongoing serious disruption to the community.

“We have made significant progress in managing Extinction Rebellion’s activity at sites across central London over this past week.

“Officers have begun the process of clearing Trafalgar Square and getting things back to normal.

“Today, protesters targeted areas in the City of London, causing further disruption to people and businesses in London’s financial district. Police made more than 90 arrests.

“Since the beginning of this operation officers have been working hard to keep London moving. There have been more than 1,400 arrests, and a number of people have been charged.

“The policing operation continues, and we will continue to take action against anyone engaged in unlawful protests at locations targeted by Extinction Rebellion.”

Other politicians from the region who have backed the protests include Labour MP and mayoral hopeful Liam Byrne, who recently hailed the "brilliant" Extinction Rebellion activists.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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