Climate change protesters bring Whitechapel Road to a halt blocking traffic including police car
PUBLISHED: 16:12 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 20 September 2019
Hundreds of angry protesters in east London brought the busy Whitechapel Road to a standstill today as part of the worldwide day of climate protests.
They marched from Mile End and Stepney Green, joining another rally outside the former London Hospital, then surged across the roadway blocking traffic for half-an-hour. Queues stretched back half-a-mile in both directions.
Buses and even a police car were stuck as the milling protesters blocked the four lanes chanting "let us breath, let us breath".
Speakers used megaphones calling on shopkeepers and office workers to join them in a loud protest about global warming.
Police could do nothing to get the road clear against the hundreds of demonstrators and just had to wait 30 minutes before they moved on.
The campaigners were mainly students and pupils on strike from colleges and schools across the East End.
The students included undergraduates from Queen Mary University and the Royal London Medical School.
Tower Hamlets GPs including Dr Jackie Appleby addressed the Whitechapel rally.
They warned of "the Earth burning up" with its body temperature rising through climate warming, calling for change to "stop the planet overheating".
Dr Appleby told the rally: "The Planet is boiling and the ice-caps are melting.
"Our children do not want to inherit a nasty polluted planet."
The marchers then continued west along Whitechapel Road after 30 minutes, letting traffic pass, heading for their third protest along the A11, outside Whitechapel Mosque, then heading towards the City.
The campaigners organised five consecutive rallies across the East End today, beginning at noon at the Mile End green bridge, then Chrisp Street Market Square in Polar, with marches converging for the Whitechapel rally, then on to the East London Mosque and ending at Bethnal Green Gardens by 4pm.
The action is supported by trade unions including Unison, Unite and teacher organisations UCU and NEU.
Many teachers joined their pupils for the march with many schools affected.
Tower Hamlets Council which declared a "climate emergency" last year left it up to each school whether to take part in the day of action.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said every child "should be in school".
But a town hall spokesman said: "It's up to each school if they want to get involved.
"We would prefer schools facilitated any action as part of a learning about climate change rather than have youngsters walking out and wandering off on their own."
A public meeting is being held tonight at Queen Mary University in Mile End, at the David Sizer lecture theatre in the Bancroft Building, at 7pm.
A mass rally was held at Westminster, with others being staged up and down the country.
Anna Taylor, the 18-year-old co-founder of UK Student Climate Network, said there was no lack of public support as it was easy getting people to show up for rallies.
The national day of action was part of a mass global movement co-ordinated around the world on social media, beginning in Australia and New Zealand, gradually sweeping around the globe westerly across Asia and Europe following the daylight, ending tonight on the west coast of America in California.
One young mum who joined today's protest at Whitechapel turned up with her four-week-old baby boy in a carry sling to show solidarity with "tomorrow's generation" who were in danger of inheriting "a scotched earth".