Two from Sheffield arrested as city residents join Extinction Rebellion protests

Sheffield mum Catherine Brentall had never been on a protest before.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 2:06 pm

But after joining thousands protesting over climate change in London this week, she says she will do it again.

And she says she thinks there are likely to be protests closer to home in the coming months, after thousands took to the streets of London in Extinction Rebellion protests this week.

Catherine was with the environmental group as it focussed its campaign on the capital’s financial district and institutions, which it says are helping to fuel climate change.

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Catherine Brentall at the XR protest

Others have been arrested over the last week in connection with the demonstrations.

Several from the Sheffield branch of Extinction Rebellion took part.

Dances, speeches and more creative ways of protesting have taken place in central London, outside embassies, Government departments and landmarks.

Sheffield couple Catherine Brentnall and Matthew Haynes joined the protests after becoming increasingly concerned following the publication of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on August 9.

Demonstrators during a protest by members of Extinction Rebellion at Oxford Circus, in central London. Picture date: Wednesday August 25, 2021. PA Photo. Extinction Rebellion protests are aiming to occupy parts of central London for two weeks, with its main aim this year being to demand the Government halts all new investment in fossil fuels. See PA story PROTEST Climate. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Two protesters from Sheffield were arrested and charged with obstructing the highway and public order offences. They had been involved in protests on Wednesday on Oxford Circus.

But Catherine had been taking part in protests in London two days earlier, and said she was keen to make sure she did not get arrested for anything, as it could stop her returning to London as a bail condition.

Catherine, aged 46, runs a shop as well as a training business, and lives near Norton. She said it had been the first time she had been involved in a protest, but felt she had to do something.

She said: “For me, it has been a recent and urgent motivation to get involved in protests.

The march Catherine Brentnall took part in

“I read the full IPCC report and it left me feeling shocked. Whatever your politics, we’re all living on the same planet. This is about the ice that is melting globally. I had been interested before but perhaps not taken it very seriously. Then the IPCC report came out, and I read the whole thing online. I was shocked. This is something that’s been agreed by governments globally, which makes me think it’s probably the most conservative estimate.”

She said she and fellow members of the Sheffield group met up at Trafalgar Square on Monday, heard speeches, and then marched to Piccadilly Circus, where a giant pink table and chairs had been put in place with the message ‘Come to the Table’.

She said the police cordoned that area off after they had arrived to avoid more people arriving.

“We were there until 6.30pm, and then we had to go home for family and work,” she said.

Catherine plans to go back again and to learn about non violent direct action. She believes similar events will take place in Sheffield in the future, using non violent protest.

One protest is planned for Pinstone Street on September 1, which will involve a group from Extinction Rebellion performing a play in the street about global warming and fossil fuels.

“If my kids are saying to me in 20 years what did you do when the IPCC report came out, I want to feel I didn’t just sit at home but took some action,” she said.

On Wednesday, a large group blocked off the surrounding roads near Oxford Circus with a partially-built pink sculpture - putting traffic at a standstill.

The Metropolitan police moved in after a van dropped off the sculpture and protesters formed a human chain to stop it being taken down, according to Extinction Rebellion.

The Met said in a statement on Twitter: “Officers have intervened when protesters were building a structure at #OxfordCircus.

“Some individuals have glued themselves to the structure, specialist officers are working to support their removal.

“There will be some disruption to traffic in the area as roads are currently blocked, which we are working to reduce."

Extinction Rebellion began its Impossible Rebellion protests on Monday when demonstrators blocked roads in central London, including around Trafalgar Square.

They are demanding the Government immediately end investment in fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

The Met said a “significant” operation would be in place for the protests over the bank holiday weekend but also acknowledged the activists' “important cause”.The demonstrations continue next week.

At least 10,000 people have gathered at the protests and 118 arrests have been made for a variety of offences during the demonstrations.

More people have been inspired to take part in the Extinction Rebellion protest following the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, according to activists.

Liam Geary Baulch, who helped launch Extinction Rebellion in 2018, said the group saw a jump in donations from people after the document was published on August 9.

The report gave a stark warning and outlined that human-caused climate change, which has pushed up global temperatures by 1.1C, is driving weather and climate extremes in every region across the world.

Mr Baulch said: “Last week £100,000 was raised in crowdfunding in just 24 hours ahead of the two weeks of protests in London.

“With the IPCC report just coming out, a lot of people have been reignited with the urgency of taking action on the climate and ecological emergency and are aware that, now it's more safe for everyone to come to London [due to coronavirus restrictions being eased].”

He added: “We are again running groups all over the country and people are being encouraged to come down to London... When they're here they are all involved with different kinds of protests, all with the aim of like really inviting people to get in and come and talk with us.”

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper. Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor