London police arrested 23 members of the activist group Extinction Rebellion yesterday, June 27, during a “Free the Press” day of protest against media corruption in the United Kingdom. The highlight of the Sunday action was when protesters dumped seven tonnes of horse manure at the doorsteps of the British tabloid Daily Mail, and defaced its entrance with spray paint.
In widespread protests at several locations in the British capital, protesters sent a message to four billionaires who they say control 68% of the UK’s print media — Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, Frederik Barclay, and Evgeny Lebedev — to “cut the buillsh*t!” and demanding “an end to media corruption that suppresses the truth from the public for profit.”
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The activists left signs in the manure that read “CUT THE CRAP” and unfolded a banner that read “FREE THE PRESS” at the Daily Mail‘s headquarters at Northcliffe House in Kensington. A video posted by the group on social media shows the activists being detained and handcuffed immediately after attempting to spray-paint the building around 7am on Sunday. “Our Submission for the 2021 Turner Prize,” the group called the action, followed by a winky emoji. Another attempt to empty a truck of manure at the Daily Telegraph offices was halted by police.
Around noon, the activists marched from Parliament Square to the News UK Offices on Bridge Street along the Southbank of the River Thames. They were joined by members of the advocacy group Media Reform Coalition and anti-racist groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
The action followed a police crackdown on the Extinction Rebellion Art Factory earlier that week. The east London warehouse is used to make art for the group’s actions and supports Black Lives Matter, nurses groups, and other protestors. A dozen activists were arrested in the raid on Friday, June 25, and a bamboo structure that used in the group’s blockade of print media outlets in September last year was seized, according to the police.
“For the British public, who’ve seen the criminal behaviour of this government and their ‘cronies’ throughout the pandemic, the conclusion must surely be clear: the arenas of power in this country are rotten, and where the billionaire-owned press is concerned — corruption is the business model,” said Gully Bujak, a speaker for Extinction Rebellion, in a statement on Sunday.
“It’s time they cut the crap and stop acting as though they are providing a noble service to the public, while greenwashing the climate crisis and stoking the culture war to divide people.”