Priti Patel has accused Extinction Rebellion (XR) of “using dangerous tactics in the name of environmental protection” – and vowed not to “stand by”.
The group held a “protest against a” roadblock on Saturday to demonstrate the government’s lack of action against climate change.
The Home Secretary appeared to suggest that the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act could be used to stop similar peaceful but disruptive protests in the future.
Ms. Patel’s criticism of XR comes just days after six Extinction Rebellion protesters were acquitted of criminally damaging Shell’s London headquarters despite the judge ordering the jury not to have a legal defense
It comes if protests against the law continue, which could give the police more powers to combat demonstrations. The legislation aims to strengthen the powers of the police in order to combat “non-violent” protests, which seriously disrupt the public or access to parliament.
Ms. Patel told The Sun on Sunday, “I would not keep my promise to the law-abiding majority if I were ready for Extinction Rebellion to use dangerous tactics in the name of environmental protection.”
Saturday’s protests coincided with a series of demonstrations against the police, crime, conviction and justice law.
The bill was drafted in part in response to previous disruptive actions by XR and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The proposed legislation would give the police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests – including those deemed too loud or disruptive, with fines or prison terms for those convicted.
It is a criminal offense to “intentionally or recklessly cause public harassment”.
Ms. Patel wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “The powers will help the police balance the rights of protesters to peacefully demonstrate against the rights of others, do their daily business and use their resources for public safety.
“This is democracy in action.”