Commuters drag Extinction Rebellion protesters off Tube trains

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

Angry commuters dragged Extinction Rebellion activists off the top of a busy Tube train in east London, as the climate change group continue their protests across the capital.

Footage shot at Canning Town's Jubilee Line platform showed two Extinction Rebellion activists holding up a banner which read "Business as usual = death" while standing on top of the London Underground train.

In the fallout from Thursday's disturbance, Extinction Rebellion expressed "sadness" at the violence sparked by the protests during rush hour and apologised for the delays to commuters.

Hundreds of angry commuters whose journey was delayed by the protesters turned on the activists at Canning Town on Thursday morning.

A male climate change protester was dragged off the top of the Tube carriage by an angry commuter, sparking a large scuffle on the platform.

A TfL staff member tried to stop people from attacking the protester by holding angry passengers back.

One commuter shouted "I need to get to work, I have to feed my kids" when the protesters clambered on board the Jubilee Line tube.

In another video also shot at Canning Town, two protesters who appear to film the incident for Extinction Rebellion are punched, harassed and dragged to the floor.

The Extinction Rebellion protesters tried to plead their case with travellers, but one was pulled to the floor by his hair and hat and kicked out of the way.

British Transport Police said eight arrests had been made in connection to the incidents at Canning Town, Stratford and Shadwell stations.

They also urged commuters not to "take matters into their own hands" if a similar incident occurs again.

Specialist officers were deployed to Shadwell station, where climate change protesters had glued themselves to the side of a DLR train.

ITV News has obtained a video filmed by Elliot Laughlin, an independent live-streamer.

The footage captures the moment two protesters used a ladder to climb on top of the tube before Laughlin was hauled to the floor.

Passengers questioned the motives of the protest, saying they must have arrived to protest using public transport.

Footage uploaded to the Extinction Rebellion London Twitter account shows one protester explaining why he has glued himself to a DLR train carriage.

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion said: "It is regretful that there was violence at today's action at Canning Town Tube station. We would like to express our sadness that events escalated this way.

"We are aware that one of our activists responded in self-defence in a moment of panic when confronted by a threatening situation.

"He acknowledges his accountability for this action and we offer gratitude for members of the public who helped to protect him."

"Rather than let this incident divide, at this moment of heightened attention, we think it is right to reach out to you, to invite you to have a conversation about what happened today," the statement added.

"In light of today's events, Extinction Rebellion will be looking at ways to bring people together rather than create an unnecessary division.

"The people involved today did not take this action lightly. They were a grandfather, an ex-Buddhist teacher, a vicar and a former GP, among others, who acted out of rational fear for the future as this crisis deepens."

British Transport Police said it was investigating the incident.

Acting chief constable Sean O'Callaghan said: "It is important that commuters and other rail users allow the police, who are specially trained, to manage these incidents."

Steve McDonald, 63, who was out leafleting at Gatwick Airport on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, said: "Obviously it went wrong, that was never our intention but I don't condemn those people."

The climate change group cancelled their planned action at Gatwick Airport after Thursday's strikes on the London Underground.

Co-founder Clare Farrell defended the Tube action and said: "The public, I don't think, realise quite how serious this situation is."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she added: "It is still peaceful, and it is still non-violent.

"There is a vast vulnerability that people have in the face of climate and ecological emergency."

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he "strongly condemns" the action of protesters, adding: "This illegal action is extremely dangerous, counterproductive and is causing unacceptable disruption to Londoners who use public transport to get to work.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, who constituency of Poplar and Limehouse was directly impacted by the protests at Canning Town, said: "So what point is Extinction Rebellion making shutting down East London's PUBLIC Transport system preventing ordinary people getting to work/school/hospital etc? !!"

Friday marks the last day of Extinction Rebellion's two-week planned protest in London.

Since last Monday, more than 1,600 people have been arrested after protesters targeted London City Airport, shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and blockaded Google's HQ.