LONDON (AP) — The technicolor, dance-filled London Pride march briefly came to a halt Saturday as climate activists blocked a Coca-Cola float to protest event organizers accepting sponsorship money from “high-polluting industries.”
Seven members of the group Just Stop Oil were arrested for public nuisance offenses, police said.
The demonstration was the latest in a long line of actions by the group to stop traffic or disrupt high profile events as part of its campaign to stop new oil and gas projects. Two protesters were arrested earlier in the week after charging onto the pitch of the Ashes Test cricket match at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
“These partnerships embarrass the LGBTQ+ community at a time when much of the cultural world is rejecting ties to these toxic industries,” the group said. “High-polluting industries and the banks that fund them now see Pride as a useful vehicle for sanitizing their reputations, waving rainbow flags in one hand whilst accelerating social collapse with the other.”
The protest halted the march that drew tens of thousands of participants. It was the 51st year of the march and the theme was “Never March Alone” in support of transgender and non-binary people.
Will De’Athe-Morris, a spokesperson for Pride in London, the organization that runs the U.K. capital’s Pride events, told the BBC he did not want the demonstration to distract from the parade’s message.
“Pride is a protest and pride is a celebration,” De’Athe-Morris said. “Anyone who tries to disrupt that protest and parade is really letting down those people who use this space once a year to come together to celebrate and protest for those rights.”
The Just Stop Oil demonstration began with a person laying down in front of the Coke float as participants danced to the thumping beat of “I Love It” by Icona Pop.
Two other protesters carrying gold-colored fire extinguishers began spraying pink and black paint on the road and the side of the sparkly red float truck. They then sat down with four others in front of the truck and chanted “Just stop oil!”
The protest lasted just over 15 minutes before police carried the protesters from the road. The crowd lining the route cheered when they were carried away and the march resumed.
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