Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The British High Court on Wednesday struck down a ban by London police against "Extinction Rebellion" climate change demonstrators, in a major victory for the environmental group.
The group's attorneys argued police had exceeded the authority of the Public Order Act, which officers used to crack down on demonstrators. More than 1,800 were arrested during rallies in October. Of those, more than 150 were charged with offenses.
The High Court said London police do not have authority to issue such a restriction, as the Public Order Act doesn't cover "separate assemblies."
"Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if coordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of ... the act," the ruling states. "The [Extinction Rebellion] Autumn Uprising intended to be held from 14 to 19 October was not therefore a public assembly ... therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under ... the act."
Police do have power to control future protests that are designed to "take police resources to the breaking point," the judges added -- noting that provision is one of the stated goals of the rebellion.
"It vindicates our belief that the police's blanket ban was an unprecedented and now unlawful infringement on our right to protest," human rights attorney Tobias Garnett said outside the courtroom. "It's a victory for those who want to draw the government's attention to what scientists have been telling us for decades."