Police defend Extinction Rebellion activists' right to protest as Victoria Bridge reopens

West Yorkshire Police officers managing the Extinction Rebellion protests.
West Yorkshire Police officers managing the Extinction Rebellion protests.
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West Yorkshire Police have defended 'people's right to protest' after five days of Extinction Rebellion protests in Leeds.

-> 'We are willing to be arrested' say Extinction Rebellion protesters
The activists have packed away their camp on Victoria Bridge and the road has now reopened to traffic.

Police on Victoria Bridge.

Police on Victoria Bridge.

The road had been closed since about 10am on Monday when Extinction Rebellion protesters first descended on Leeds.

Protests lasted for five days and caused considerable traffic disruption across the city centre.
Police have confirmed that no arrests were made during the protests and have thanked the public for their cooperation.

In a statement, police said: "West Yorkshire Police can confirm that Victoria Bridge near Neville Street/Bridgewater Place in Leeds has been handed back to local authority control following the conclusion of an environmental protest.

"We appreciate the protest this week has caused some disruption in the city but we have worked tirelessly with partner agencies to effectively manage people's right to protest, balanced with the rights and freedoms of others to minimise the impact on local communities.

"We would like to thank residents, commuters and members of the public for their support and co-operation throughout the week."

Police could not reveal how many officers were deployed across the week, but some officers had their rest days cancelled to police the protests.

On Thursday, a police spokesperson said: "West Yorkshire Police has deployed a proportionate number of officers to manage the protest based on assessment of potential disruption it could cause.

"Resources have been kept under review as the week has progressed.

"The operation had been a multi-agency initiative with support from partners at Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service commanded by Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingman and Superintendent Chris Bowen from Leeds Police".

Two counter-protesters, who were accused of being 'right-wing' by Extinction Rebellion activists', were removed from Victoria Bridge by police on Thursday and prevented from following the group on a march.

No other altercations were reported during the protests.

-> COMMENT: Extinction Rebellion protests a minor inconvenience next to Leeds' air pollution problem