London – More than 130 people were arrested in London as protesters began setting up camps around the city, police said Monday, kicking off two weeks of demonstrations demanding action on climate change. Organizers said they expected 30,000 people to take part in the U.K. protests, and that similar actions would take place in major cities around the world.
"Police are really, really heavy on us," Sophie Cowen, a spokesperson for , the group behind the protests, told CBS News, moments after a demonstrator was hauled off by police on London's Westminster Bridge. She said the group was committed to holding their positions.
"Parliament declared a climate and environment emergency in April and we've seen absolutely nothing since. So we're here again, and we're going to stay here until they actually do something," she told CBS News.
Hundreds of protesters blocked bridges and roads around the British capital Monday morning, with more disruptive actions in the works, including at London's City Airport and in the "new media" space, the group said. Some demonstrators brought supplies to camp out, while others just came to march for the day.
"If there was an outbreak of disease they would declare a public health emergency," Kath, who declined to share her last name, told CBS News. "But this is a public health emergency, and they aren't acting as fast as they should."
Extinction Rebellion launched in 2018 and in London in April this year. Those demonstrations caused major disruption in the city and resulted in over 1,100 arrests.
"We're here because we are deeply concerned for the situation of the planet and people," Cowen told CBS News. "People have got their heads in the sand to what the situation is. It's really scary."
Similar demonstrations were taking place in Berlin, Sydney, Amsterdam and Madrid on Monday, and organizers said more were expected in up to 60 cities around the world, including New York and Washington, D.C., as part of what they called an "international rebellion."
In Amsterdam, at least 90 people were detained by police. In Berlin, around a thousand people were estimated to have blocked a major intersection. In Sydney, hundreds blocked a road before being dispersed, and thirty people were charged.
"We have tried petitions, lobbying and marches," Jane Morton, an Australian activist, told the AFP news agency. "Now time is running out."
In lower Manhattan, protesters warning of "mass extinction" played dead, lying down and blocking the street near the New York Stock Exchange. CBS New York reports at least 26 people were arrested by midday Monday. Protesters also threw red paint on the iconic Charging Bull statue near Wall Street.