Just Stop Oil: Cenotaph claims are 'a lie', says group as 100 arrests in Whitehall

Just Stop Oil slow marchers shut down Whitehall on Monday, with the group saying at least 130 members were arrested
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At least a hundred Just Stop Oil slow marchers have been arrested for refusing to move off the road at Whitehall, as the climate action group hit out at politicians who accused them of targeting the Cenotaph war memorial.

The protest action began at around 11.30am on Monday (November 6), stopping traffic on the Central London road, which leads to Parliament. Protesters are calling for an end to new fossil fuel projects in the UK, amid media reports that the King's Speech may include a proposed government policy which would "lock in" oil and gas exploration licensing rounds each year for future governments.

The slow marches kicked off shortly after two other Just Stop Oil activists smashed the glass protecting the Rokeby Venus - a 17th century painting famously slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914 - at the National Portrait Gallery. Two people were arrested.

In updates posted on X, the Metropolitan Police said they were on the scene as Just Stop Oil activists slow marched in the Whitehall area. After protesters failed to move off the road when asked, they started making arrests under Section 7 of the Public Order Act - a new legal power which allows police to remove protesters interfering with "key national infrastructure".

Within 15 minutes the force had arrested at least 40 activists who were slow marching, and posted "Whitehall is now clear". An hour later The Met says officers became aware of a second group of slow marchers in the area, who did not comply with orders to move off the road. The Met Police said their early estimate is that there have been around 100 arrests total.

A number of politicians, including Labour's Yvette Cooper, made social media posts condemning Just Stop Oil for reportedly targeting Whitehall's Cenotaph - a war memorial monument. However, Just Stop Oil responded to condemn these comments as a "lie".

"They were marching towards Parliament Square before being arrested by police for protesting. Nothing to do with the Cenotaph," one Tweet said. "The reality is that they were dragged off the road and arrested by police for protesting in the street."

Met Police officers remove a Just Stop Oil protester detained whilse blocking Whitehall during a protest (Photo: Lucy North/PA Wire)Met Police officers remove a Just Stop Oil protester detained whilse blocking Whitehall during a protest (Photo: Lucy North/PA Wire)
Met Police officers remove a Just Stop Oil protester detained whilse blocking Whitehall during a protest (Photo: Lucy North/PA Wire)

In a statement on the protest action, the group said at about 11.30am, 130 Just Stop Oil supporters began marching down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square. Shortly before midday police began arresting Just Stop Oil supporters for allegedly breaching Section 7 of the Public Order Act 2023, "but they were unable to bring the march to a halt at this stage, and the supporters made their way to Parliament".

"By 12.13pm all Just Stop Oil Supporters were arrested, with most peacefully refusing to comply with the police," the group said. Monday marked the start of the group's second week of slow marching action, after an earlier campaign was paused.

One of those taking action today was named by Just Stop Oil as Laura Fretwell. She said: “I'm taking action with Just Stop Oil because if we don't end new oil and gas, everything we know and love will be destroyed because of the greed of a select few. The government needs to take drastic action now to prevent climate chaos. Their refusal to do so condemns us all.

“I will march, facing the threat of violence and arrest, because our children deserve better than to be living on a dying planet. We owe it to them to create a better world, as our elders have done for us.”