Just Stop Oil: Environmental activists try to break into Downing Street in grand finale

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By Euronews  with AFP
Police officers arrest an activisit from the group Just Stop Oil after they blocked a road in London, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.
Police officers arrest an activisit from the group Just Stop Oil after they blocked a road in London, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.   -  Copyright  Kirsty Wigglesworth/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

Environmental group Just Stop Oil topped off a month of controversial protests in London on Tuesday, rallying outside Downing Street to demand that the prime minister bans new exploration for fossil fuels.

Videos circulating on social media show activists trying to scale the gates of Downing Street, home to the official residence of the UK PM, before being immediately intercepted by police officers.

Shortly after the incident, Just Stop Oil announced on Twitter it would "pause its campaign of civil resistance." 

Other activists sat on the road of Whitehall, the artery which serves Downing Street, deploying banners, with some sticking themselves to the ground. 

In a statement, the group asked the government to abandon "new oil and gas projects".

“This genocidal policy will kill millions of people, without succeeding in combating the worst crisis in the cost of living that this country has ever known,” it continued, asking for a windfall tax on the profits of oil companies.

Just Stop Oil has staged several controversial protests in the UK in recent weeks, including blocking roads in the UK capital. 

Six of its members are currently behind bars for participating in these protests. 

UK officials plan to create new laws to clamp down on these what it calls "guerrilla" tactics. 

Some voices in the Conservative government have said such legislation is necessary to stop activists from causing disruption and damaging property, though others say sufficient powers already exist and new laws could threaten rights and freedoms in the country. 

Just Stop Oil have said they will not be "intimidated" or "reduced in silence".

Activists from the group have carried out a series of blockades on roads over the last month, sometimes causing friction with the public. 

They have also thrown cake at the wax statue of King Charles at Madame Tussauds, tossed tomato soup at Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' in the National Gallery and spray painted an Aston Martin dealership.

After Tuesday's action, the group said it would stop its activities, allowing the government "time" to consider their activism.

"We are giving time to those in the Government who are in touch with reality to consider their responsibilities to this country at this time," they wrote on Twitter.  

“If, as we unfortunately expect, we receive no response from ministers to our request by Friday, November 4, we will step up our legal disturbances against this traitorous government," the group said. 

"Our actions will be commensurate with the need to end to the crime against humanity of new oil and gas developments," it added.