British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned a central London climate change protest held in front of a First World War memorial on Armistice Day as “profoundly disrespectful.” The Extinction Rebellion activist group hung a banner on the Cenotaph monument, which is Britain’s official national war memorial. It was erected after the war ended in 1920. The banner read “Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War.” A wreath of poppies was also placed on the memorial decorated with the words “climate change means war, act now” on Wednesday morning. The memorial is around 130 metres from Johnson’s official residence in Downing Street. A spokesman for the prime minister said: “The Cenotaph is a memorial to those who fought and died to preserve all our freedoms. On today, of all days, when we join together to pay tribute to our war dead, this action was profoundly disrespectful.”
Asked whether officers should have prevented the action, the spokesman said: “These are operational matters for the police.” A statement on the climate activists’ website said the banner was hung at 8 am Wednesday by British Army veteran and Extinction Rebellion member Donald Bell, who “paid his respects and observed two minutes silence.”
They added: “He then hung a wreath of poppies decorated with the words ‘climate change means war, act now’ on the Cenotaph.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said officers removed the banner as soon as they became aware of it and an investigation is underway to see if any breaches of the Covid-19 regulations were made. Wednesday marks the 102nd anniversary of the end of World War I.