Insulate Britain eco-zealots were dragged away by irate motorists today as some threatened to run them over during yet another road-blocking protest, with 40 of the activists bringing further misery.
The demonstrators ran out onto the road by traffic lights at junction 31 of the motorway near Thurrock on the north side of the Dartford Crossing which links Essex to Kent, and also close to a nearby industrial estate.
But motorists got out of their cars and dragged the protesters off the road while they were still in seated positions, with one man seen ripping Insulate Britain banners out of their hands. Essex Police made a total of 35 arrests.
A lorry driver was filmed taking his vehicle right up to the protesters, another man dragged an activist onto the pavement by his backpack, and a mother taking her son to school said she would ‘drive straight through you’.
She said: ‘Out of the way, move out of the way now. You’re taking the f*ing ps. My son needs to get to school, I don’t care what the f***ing issue is. My son is 11, he needs to get to school today, so move out the way and let me get my son to school. Do you think I care? I’ll drive through you. You f***ing… I’ll drive straight through you.’
A woman nearby was heard saying ‘careful, careful, careful,’ another man was heard pleading with her ‘don’t, don’t, don’t’ – and a protester said: ‘Are you going to kill us, are you going to kill us to get your son to school?’
Near the industrial estate in Thurrock, around 20 protesters blocked the junction to St Clements Way and London Road, forcing multiple vehicles including HGVs to stop and turn round as vehicles blasted their horns.
Motorists got out of their cars to confront protesters, who lay down in the road in front of them. Some were physically dragged out of the road but immediately returned, only to be dragged away again by the drivers.
Some 35 demonstrators were arrested across the two sites, including 16 people on the M25 and 19 near the industrial estate. The protest began at 8.25 am and the force said at 11.20 am that all roads had been reopened.
While Essex Police responded swiftly to the M25 element of the protest within five minutes and kept one lane open, there was criticism of their slower response to the industrial estate, which was labeled ‘shameful’.
Reporters at the scene claimed there was no sign of police at least 40 minutes after that protest began as delays continued.
Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, said today marked the 13th time that it had caused disruption on motorways or A roads over the past four weeks – and their protests continued despite a series of injunctions.
Retired Anglican vicar Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, a regular Insulate Britain and XR activist, was among those being arrested on the M25 today. She has already been arrested at other M25 protests on September 13, 21, and 29.
One man called the activists a ‘bunch of fing aholes’, according to LBC, while another said: ‘This is not helping. This is going to gridlock the whole area. You’ve made your point. My business is on its knees – we’ve got massive haulage problems in the UK. Look at my warehouse there – how am I going to insulate that?’
And a motorist told LBC: ‘I’ve lost my job interview because of these lot here, for a skip driver. I’m an HGV (driver) – look at this lot, none of them work, they’re all retired. I’ve lost it (the job opportunity), I’ve been told, I’ve lost it because I’m too late because of these. I’m an hour late because of this lot. I’ve got two young children.’
Commenting on a video clip taken at the industrial estate before police arrived, MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton tweeted: ‘I repeat: Insulate Britain are eco-terrorists. They must be locked up. People are going to die. And no police there – shameful.’
And LBC reporter Rachael Venables tweeted: ‘Forty minutes after Insulate Britain blocked major roads in an industrial estate by Purfleet docks, there is no sign of police. Drivers are taking matters into their own hands.’
The journalist, who has been present at most of the group’s protests over the past month, added that she feared the incident would become ‘nasty’.
And she said: ‘Honestly, at times this morning I really thought someone was going to get run over. The frustration and fury of drivers against Insulate Britain was next level.’
An Essex Police spokesman said: ‘We’re on scene and have made arrests following reports of people blocking the slip road of the M25 at J31 in Thurrock.
‘We were called at 8.26 am and officers were on scene within five minutes. We’re trying to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible.’
In an update issued around 25 minutes later, the force added: ‘We’ve made 16 arrests after reports of people blocking the M25 at J31 in Thurrock.
‘Officers responded within five minutes and were able to keep one lane open. We’re now responding to people blocking the road in the Stonehouse Ln area in Purfleet.’
Then in a third update at about 11.20 am, they said: ’35 people have now been arrested after we responded quickly to reports of roads blocked in Thurrock.
’16 people were arrested at J31 of the M25 while 19 were arrested in Stonehouse Ln, Purfleet. All roads are now open. Thank you for your patience and understanding.’
The group has blocked parts of major roads around London, including the M25 and M4, to draw attention to climate change.
Transport for London (TfL) was previously granted High Court injunctions against the group to prevent them further obstructing traffic – which applies to 14 locations around the capital.
The injunctions were extended to the end of next month yesterday.
Despite the arrests and frustrated responses of commuters, the group said other members of the public have praised its actions.
Yesterday, protesters set light to court injunction papers that had been individually served on them, on the pavement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
A High Court hearing was taking place over three injunctions granted to National Highways, covering the M25, Port of Dover, and major A roads around London.
Activists were warned by David Elvin QC, on behalf of National Highways, that a bid to prove the protestors are in contempt of court – and thus liable to be jailed – could come ‘sooner rather than later.’ A further hearing will take place next week.
Liam Norton, from Insulate Britain, said today: ‘In ten years’ time when fuel crises are catastrophic, when the food has run out and when people are experiencing unsurvivable heat waves, what would you be wishing you had done now?
‘We think you’ll be wishing you had sat on the road with Insulate Britain doing whatever it took to protect current and future generations. So come join us on the road.’
Dr. Diana Warner, an Insulate Britain supporter, also said today: ‘Many people are going out of their way to thank us. Some come out of their cars to thank us, some are police officers involved with our arrests.’
h/t Rúnar O.
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