Extinction Rebellion protesters are making a “flipping nuisance” of themselves by “going floppy” when they are arrested, a senior police officer has said.
Deputy Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Stephen House had a rant about the “pain in the neck” tactic during a London Assembly police and crime committee meeting.
“We have asked them to stop being floppy,” he said, according to the Guardian. “And that might seem like a silly thing to say, but when we arrest them and pick them up, they go all floppy, which is why you see four or five officers carrying them away. It’s a complete waste of officers’ time, and a complete pain in the neck.
“The problem with them going floppy and four offices carrying them away [is that it] looks to the general public like police are overreacting here. We’re not making them go floppy. They’re just sort of being a nuisance.
“If they could just behave like sensible adults. It is a flipping nuisance. And I think the majority of the public would look at that and go: ‘For goodness sake, you’ve made your point. You’ve been arrested, the police are treating you perfectly fairly, just get on with it.’”
The method is part of XR’s non-violent tactics to not cooperate with arrests. XR are not the first activists to “go floppy”, but XR protests will have seen some of the most widespread use of the tactic.
At Extinction Rebellion’s September protests, 680 people were arrested for offences including criminal damage, obstructing the highway and breaching conditions placed on the protest by police under section 14 of the public order act.
Speaking at the Police Superintendents Association annual conference this month, Home Secretary Priti Patel blasted XR as “so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals” and vowed to crack down on the group.
However, the police’s response to XR protests has also been criticised on human rights grounds. The Met imposed a blanket banning order on the group’s protest activity in October of 2019, which was subsequently found to be unlawful.
Police monitoring network Netpol documented 521 abuses of power during the protests, including systematic discrimination against disabled protesters.