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'If you do that it's a crime': Police warn motorists it's assault if they move Just Stop Oil protesters off road
25 April 2023, 15:02 | Updated: 25 April 2023, 15:51
A man came close to arrest on Tuesday morning following a heated confrontation with Metropolitan Police officers, after footage emerged showing him attempting to push eco-protesters out the way of standstill traffic.
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The video, released by climate activist-group Just Stop Oil, shows protestors dressed in high-vis jackets blocking roads in central London at around 07:30am as the irate man attempts to move the protesters on.
The incident was one of 5 protests taking place across the capital, with 100 Just Stop Oil activists believed to have taken part.
In a moment of frustration, the man - believed to be a motorist - can then be seen attempting to confiscate the demonstrators' banners and attempting to escort them off the road.
Seconds later, a police officer can be seen pulling the man to one side and giving him a stern warning over his behaviour.
The officer can be heard saying: "If you start pushing them, then that's assault".
Motorist confronted by police over moving Just Stop Oil protestors out of the way
At first, the man defends his actions, exclaiming "they've got to get to work" - in reference to those being held up by the protest.
However, the officer quickly responds by saying: "You can't do that, if you do that, that is a crime. So we're not going to do that anymore."
The man then replies "I won't" upon receiving the warning.
The Just Stop Oil action formed part of a second day of 'slow walk' protests across London to the dismay of many commuters.
In a separate incident on Monday, a motorist was spotted stepping out of his vehicle in order to confront activists who were blocking the road during rush hour.
The unnamed man can be seen confronting Just Stop Oil supporters on Haymarket in central London, before ripping the orange banner they were holding from their hands.
Just Stop Oil march in London
He told the police liaison officers: "I need to go to work". He asked them: "What are you guys doing? What are you doing?
"I'm going to be late today! What are you doing?"
One of the police officers asked him calmly: "Can you just go back for me please?
Turning back to the protesters, the driver begged them: "Come on, just get out of the road!"
Mimicking officers, he said: "Sir, sir, sir. If you do something we'll see what happens. What are you doing?
"You're just being annoying," he told them.
Officers said: "Traffic is going slightly slower than it is normally in London.
But the driver shot back: "Slightly slower? I can see it in all your faces, you like this stuff. You like it. You're supporting this."
Yesterday marked the first day in the latest round of protests for the campaign group, which saw them disrupt traffic on roads in the West End, Westminster and south London.
The group's main demand is for the government to stop funding new oil and gas projects.
The slow march comes after a weekend of rallies from Extinction Rebellion on the streets of Westminster, alongside other environment campaign groups, who share similar demands.
Police liaison officers "are deployed to spontaneous or pre-planned public order/public safety events as a resource to enable an effective policing response and act, where needed, in a mutual aid capacity", according to the College of Policing.
Their job includes "identify[ing] and differentiat[ing] individuals and groups who may become involved in or encourage disorder or violence or increase levels of tension and provide commanders with ‘fast time’ updates to enable informed and proportionate decision making."
They also have to "engage in dialogue and communication with and ensure the flow of information between police officers, crowd members and other individuals at all times during the event in order to support public safety".