An Extinction Rebellion protester dragged off a London Underground train by angry commuters has been revealed to be an accounts administrator from Bristol – as his environmental comrades condemn the stunt for ‘jeopardising the movement’.
James Mee, 35, was part of a gang including a Buddhist teacher, a grandfather and a vicar who brought chaos to three stations east of the capital: Canning Town, Shadwell and Stratford.
He and Mark Ovland, 36, were dragged from the top of a Tube train at Canning Town before being roughed up by enraged commuters.
Their actions have led to Extinction Rebellion cancelling its planned Gatwick ‘shutdown’ as members high up within the organisation condemn the splinter group for halting trains despite a group-wide poll deciding against the stunt.
James Mee, 35, (pictured) was part of a gang including a Buddhist teacher, a grandfather and a vicar who brought chaos to three stations east of the capital: Canning Town, Shadwell and Stratford
Ovland, left, clambered on top of a train at Canning Town (right, stood on the left) this morning to unfurl his banner
Mark Ovland was among the scantily-clad protesters in the Commons in April (pictured far right)
Speaking to the Mirror, a senior source within the climate protest group, said: ‘We were vehemently opposed to it. So it’s really upsetting for this to happen. This was not an action we support.
‘Despite this, the action has gone ahead, and we feel that the actions of a handful of protestors have jeopardised our movement, turning public opinion against us, and creating a potential schism within our ranks. We are furious that this has happened.’
Mr Mee kicked out at a man who approached the carriage but was dragged to the platform and roughed up, drawing howls of outrage from Londoners, politicians, union leaders, police, and official XR spokespeople.
Another of the activists who climbed on top of a tube train this morning has been identified as a 36-year-old Buddhist.
Mark Ovland gave up his full-time Buddhist teacher training studies earlier this year to join XR as a ‘full time protestor’.
Green Christian Ruth Jarman (left), 56, was also pictured protesting on the network, as she offered assistance to pensioner Phil Kingston (right)
Pictured: Jarman at the DLR station in Canning Town, east London, as Phil Kingston glues himself to the carriage
Pictured: Angry commuters pull accounts executive James Mee from the train in Canning Town, east London, yesterday afternoon in ugly scenes
Grandfather-of-four Phil Kingston (left) glued himself to a DLR carriage in Shadwell, east London, yesterday (right)
Extinction Rebellion’s statement on the disruption in full:
‘It is regretful that there was violence at today’s action at Canning Town tube station. We would like to express our sadness that events escalated this way.
‘We are aware that one of our activists responded in self defence in a moment of panic when confronted by a threatening situation.
‘He acknowledges his accountability for this action and we offer gratitude for members of the public who helped to protect him.
‘To those that engaged in violence, we acknowledge that we disrupted your life today.
‘Rather than let this incident divide – at this moment of heightened attention – we think it is right to reach out to you, to invite you to have a conversation about what happened today.
‘In light of today’s events, Extinction Rebellion will be looking at ways to bring people together rather than create an unnecessary division.
‘The people involved today did not take this action lightly. They were a grandfather, an ex-Buddhist teacher, a vicar and a former GP among others who acted out of rational fear for the future as this crisis deepens.
‘We are aware that this action was divisive. We are a broad and diverse movement with a wide range of views, and are aware that many people were not for this action. Those that acted this morning planned their action autonomously, within Extinction Rebellion’s principles and values, centred around nonviolence and compassion.
‘Extinction Rebellion remains fully committed to nonviolence and will continue to put ourselves in vulnerable situations to highlight the climate and ecological emergency we face. It is unfortunate that something like this has to happen for this to become “newsworthy”.
‘This follows 10 days of peaceful actions in London. Extinction Rebellion’s supporters are ordinary people who are trying desperately to preserve the safety and security of all life on earth.’
He was among the scantily-clad protesters in the Commons in April.
Tory MP James Heappey defied Commons rules to photograph the dozen people, who had slogans including ‘climate justice act now’ and ‘eco collapse’ daubed on their backs.
Speaker John Bercow told MPs to ignore the demonstration and continue with the debate as they stood in a line with their backsides pressed against the security glass.
Other XR campaigners joining him in the Tube action yesterday included pensioner Phil Kingston, 83, who earlier this month was pictured standing on top of a fire engine as activists sprayed 1,800 litres of fake blood over the Treasury.
Self-described Green Christian Ruth Jarman, a 56-year-old vicar, was also pictured protesting on the London Underground network yseterday.
Ovland has already been arrested and released several times in the course of XR’s fortnight long campaign to cause chaos across the capital.
This morning he was among protesters who – in a coordinated three-pronged assault at different stations – scaled tube carriages and glued themselves to train doors in a bid to bring the Underground to its knees.
The Telegraph reported that Ovland has already been arrested and released ‘several times’ this week.
He was among the protesters who sprayed fake blood all over the Treasury on October 3.
The Metropolitan Police have not yet confirmed how many times Ovland has been arrested and released.
In interviews Ovland describes himself as a full-time Extinction Rebellion protester who gave up his Buddhist studies to devote himself to climate change action. His actions this morning sparked a firey backlash.
The group’s leaders have called off a planned protest at Gatwick airport ‘in light of’ the response to the Tube disruption and a spokesman said the group would ‘take stock’ before disrupting the Underground any further.
British Transport Police slammed the group for putting people at risk.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: ‘Despite our countless warnings, we are frustrated that Extinction Rebellion put people at risk to obstruct services on London’s rail network. Those who obstructed services are in custody and will be dealt with robustly.’
Local MP Jim Fitzpatrick furiously tweeted: ”So what point is Extinction Rebellion making shutting down east London’s public transport system, preventing ordinary people from getting to work, school, hospital?’
Downing Street heavily criticised protesters. ‘What we saw this morning didn’t have anything to do with peaceful protest,’ said the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman.
He was led away by police on October 3 after XR sprayed the Treasury with fake blood
A spokesman for the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said: ‘RMT condemns any activity that compromises staff and passenger safety on London Underground.’
A poll on the Extinction Rebellion Telegram chat showed 86 per cent of members were against action targeting the London Underground.
Just four per cent approved of the action, while seven per cent approved if they could be sure trains wouldn’t get blocked underground.