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WWF office sit-in enters second day as XR keeps up London protests

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Show caption Extinction Rebellion activists in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday, the 10th day of their latest protest in the capital. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA Extinction Rebellion WWF office sit-in enters second day as XR keeps up London protests Extinction Rebellion members march through Westminster and target offices of JP Morgan Damien Gayle @damiengayle Wed 1 Sep 2021 17.41 BST Share on Facebook

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An occupation of the offices of the environmental group WWF by a protest in solidarity with indigenous people in Africa has continued into its second day, as Extinction Rebellion’s actions continued in London on a smaller scale.

About a dozen activists organised under the banner WTF WWF occupied the WWF offices in Woking, Surrey, on Tuesday morning. They stayed overnight, refusing to leave until it begins a dialogue with indigenous communities in Tanzania, Kenya and Cameroon who say they are being displaced by conservation efforts.

A spokesperson for the group, which includes members of the XR Youth Solidarity network, said it also wanted WWF to publicly speak out about evictions.

“If WWF is truly invested in supporting indigenous land and human rights as they say they would use their global influence and public image to speak out against the evictions and abuses happening in Tanzania, Cameroon and Kenya, or they would a least agree to speak to our indigenous partners on the ground,” the spokesperson said.

“Our demands are very simple and achievable. They could end this occupation easily if they wanted, but so far they have refused to do what they praise themselves to be doing.”

WWF had previously called the occupation disappointing. The NGO said: “Communities are at the heart of our work and as a global organisation we will continue to strengthen how we embed human rights into nature conservation, everywhere we work including in the most challenging areas of the world, to safeguard communities and the nature upon which they depend.”

The offices of JP Morgan, where protesters broke panes of glass with hammers and chisels. Photograph: Reuters

On day 10 of XR’s latest rebellion in the capital, actions were muted. Several hundred gathered in Parliament Square for a protest against greenwashing, marching through Westminster past the business department and Downing Street, before ending in Trafalgar Square.

“We are here today to protest about government and corporate greenwashing,” said Lisa Hill, 57, from Newbury, outside the gates to Downing Street. “It happens all the time and it’s lulling people into a false sense of security. It has to stop.”

Earlier, a group of eight women had lined up outside the offices of JP Morgan at Embankment, before carefully using hammers and chisels to break two panes of glass. An effort to carry out “swarm” protests in the city appeared to peter out, with a heavy police presence at meeting points and reports that officers were carrying out stops and searches of suspected activists.

XR activists said Wednesday was intended as “a bit of a rest day”, with many in the movement still in shock at the use of force by police at a roadblock protest on London Bridge on Tuesday, when officers had swung batons and thrown punches to subdue activists onboard an open-top bus.

Caroline Russell, a Green party member of the London assembly, is to raise the policing of Tuesday’s protest at the next mayor’s question time on 9 September. She said: “I was at XR earlier that day. They were playing music, there was a samba band and the atmosphere was friendly and positive.

“The videos we have seen of events that transpired later that day show policing tactics that are completely unacceptable. Citizens should be able to peacefully protest without facing violence from the police. I will be raising this with the mayor urgently at mayor’s question time next week.”