Stop Killing Londoners group block Oxford Street in rush hour
Air pollution protesters demand a meeting with London Mayor Sadiq Khan
02 February, 2018 — By William McLennan
The protest on Monday
ENVIRONMENTAL activists caused “absolute chaos” in the West End when they staged a rush-hour protest calling for action on air pollution.
The protesters, organised by the group Stop Killing Londoners, formed a blockade across Oxford Street on Monday morning.
It is the latest demonstration by the group who say that pollution-cutting measures have been “kicked into the long grass” by the Mayor of London.
The protest caused disruption across the West End and was met with hostility from commuters, who said it was counter-productive to create traffic jams, therefore increasing vehicle emissions.
Dan Keeler, one of the protesters, said: “To those who might think we are being unreasonable, remember, between 25 and 27 people a day die an early death in London due to the toxic and unlawful levels of air pollution, with the lungs of thousands of others – particularly young children and even babies and the unborn – being permanently scarred.
“This is an emergency situation that has been ongoing for years, and yet it is not being treated as such either by the central government or by our mayor”.
The group held a string of protests in November, including closing down Marylebone Road, demanding a meeting with Sadiq Khan.
Mr Keeler, 32, said: “While we were pleased that the mayor’s office finally agreed to send officials to speak with us, we must admit to being rather underwhelmed with the outcome, insofar as concrete policies coming from the mayor to tackle killer air pollution today not in 2020.”
Four members of the group have spent time in prison for breaching bail conditions that prevented them from joining protests.
Roger Hallam, one of the organisers, said: “As always, all of our peaceful direct actions are done to bring an end to the 9,000- 10,000 Londoners being killed every year due to toxic and unlawful levels of air pollution, and the thousands of others whose lungs are being poisoned and scarred for life.”
The protest angered Monday-morning commuters, with many venting their frustration online.
One said: “They were causing anarchy for no reason. Badly planned and badly executed.”
Jessica Cholmondeley said the protest was “causing absolute chaos”.
David Ginsberg said: “Why aren’t police removing these daft protesters at Marble Arch blocking the road, protesting for clean air but causing more pollution.”
A City Hall spokesman said the mayor was already committed to carrying out many of the group’s demands, including recently expanding the “ultra low emission zone” to cover the north and south circular roads.