“We cannot afford new oil and gas. It’s going to take everything we know and love. We will look back and mourn all we have lost unless we act immediately.”- Phoebe Plummer.
Recent weeks have seen a large amount of protests from the activist group Just Stop Oil. Since launching in February, the group aims “to ensure that the government commits to ending all new licences and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.”
During the weeks of civil resistance, some protestors took to the National Gallery in London on October 14th. In one of the group’s most infamous acts, two supporters threw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s painting, Sunflowers. Phoebe Plummer, 21, and Anna Holland, 20, promptly glued themselves to the wall underneath the artwork. “What is worth more, art or life?” said Plummer.
The two were arrested by police for criminal damage and aggravated trespass. However the work, which has an estimated value of £72.5 million, was “unharmed” and it was reported there was only “minor damage” to the frame.
Later, on October 17th, two Just Stop Oil protesters climbed the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at the Dartford Crossing. The two men scaled the bridge and unfurled a large orange ‘Just Stop Oil’ banner as part of ongoing protests against the new government gas and oil licences. This led to the closure of the bridge, with many motorists being stuck in eight miles of traffic.
However, footage emerged of fireworks being shot at the protestors. The video is now being analysed by the police to establish its authenticity. After over 36 hours, the environmental activist group ended the Dartford Bridge protests. The pair were arrested after being brought down off the bridge. In response, Just Stop Oil tweeted: “We successfully disrupted oil supplies to Kent & the South East for 36 hrs.”
“We are stepping down now but other supporters of Just Stop Oil will be stepping up day after day, causing disruption & putting their liberty on the line to demand that the government ends new oil & gas.”
In addition, Just Stop Oil has been occupying Westminster every single day of October at 11am. Throughout the month, supporters of the group have been forming road blockades throughout London: some super glueing themselves to the ground.
October 1st marked this united front, with thousands of people blocking four London bridges. Protesters blocked Waterloo Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, with other groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Enough is Enough also attending.
For example, on October 10th, 30 supporters blocked The Mall, London’s primary ceremonial road. This led to 25 protesters being arrested.
Following this, on October 12th, 9 activists formed a blockade outside an entrance to Downing Street. Following the police arriving, 2 protesters jumped on top of police vans and refused orders to come down.
October 19th saw 25 supporters forming a blockade on the A4 Cromwell road, at the junction with Exhibition Road, in central London. This led to 21 arrests.
As of October 19th, Just Stop Oil noted that the police have made over 500 arrests throughout October. Since the campaign beginning on April 1st, over 1750 arrests have been made with 5 protestors in prison. However, the group continues to exercise civil resistance to demand an end to new oil and gas.