Tour de France fans took matters into their own hands yesterday as they angrily removed a gang of eco-protesters threatening to disrupt the historic bike race by sitting in the middle of the road to block oncoming riders.
Eight climate activists from French campaign group Dernière Rénovation (Last Renovation) sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the message ‘we have 978 days left’ to tackle environmental decline tried to stop the race during the 20th stage between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadouron on Saturday.
But their attempts to wreak havoc at the stage were thwarted by spectators, who stormed onto the road and dragged them out of the path of the oncoming bikes even before the police arrived on the scene to make arrests.
Striking pictures have emerged of the enraged fans bowling into the road to pull, push and harry the protesters off the tarmac to prevent them from ruining the race.
Started earlier this year, Dernière Rénovation (DR) is a French faction of the international climate activism conglomerate ‘A22’, which includes the likes of Just Stop Oil – a UK-based group which attempted to disrupt the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 3.
DR employ similar tactics to those used by the likes of Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain, such as gluing themselves to the road to create congestion in large cities or putting themselves in harm’s way to disrupt major events.
The French faction had already hit the cycling competition three times prior to yesterday’s demonstration, and have promised more action – though the Tour De France draws to a close today on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
A statement released by the group today read: ‘Citizens supporting DR tried to interrupt the Tour de France time trial, during the 20th stage between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour.
‘Today’s action is the fourth in a series of disruptive actions that will continue until there is a credible and effective government commitment to isolate buildings…
‘If nothing is done, the climate crisis will devastate entire swaths of our planet, as its disastrous consequences in our country have already witnessed this summer, and will condemn billions of people to death.’
Hero Tour de France fans have taken justice into the own hands to remove eco-protesters threatening to disrupt the event by blocking the road. Pictured: People push the protesters away from the path of the oncoming Tour de France, between Lacapelle Marival and Rocamadour, in Gramat
Eight climate activists from Dernière Rénovation (Last Renovation) wearing T-shirts saying ‘we have 978 days left’ to tackle the environment tried to stop the race during the 20th stage between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour. Pictured: Tour de France fans pushing the protesters away on Saturday as they tried to block the race
Protestors at Tour de France were also videoed and pictured previously being removed in early July by Tour De France officials
Environmental collective ‘Last Renovation’ activists demonstrated on the road, and block the Tour de France, between Lacapelle Marival and Rocamadour, in Gramat, France, on Friday, July 23 before spectators dragged them away
Activists who demonstrated on the road, and blocked the Tour de France are pictured being handcuffed by police on Saturday
The climate activists from Dernière Rénovation were wearing T-shirts saying ‘we have 978 days left’ as they were arrested by police on Saturday
The public moves the protesters on before the police arrived and to stop the block on the Tour de France on Saturday
Their tactics and demands echo Insulate Britain, who want to see a government commitment to insulate buildings, and Just Stop Oil. Pictured: On Saturday
The protesters hold red flares as Tour De France fans tried to push them from the race path before police arrive on Saturday
It is the fourth time protesters (pictured on Saturday) have halted the Tour De France over the past few weeks
A car carrying bikes tries to squeeze pas as people row over the protest on Saturday
In a separate press release the group said: ‘We will start again as many times as necessary to make our government react.
‘Not a day should go by without the climate emergency being at the heart of the political agenda.’
Cédric, a 49-year-old engineer and DR member who was involved in the attempted protest said on Saturday: ‘I know a lot of people won’t understand this action. I’m on this road because I’m terrified of the world my children and the people I love will come to know.
‘I do my best to do what seems right and necessary to me. To prevent millions of people from living in a world of immense suffering, wars and famines.
‘I am determined to do everything in my power, rather than remain in denial and inaction where our government takes refuge. I can’t be 100 per cent sure what I’m doing is the best solution, but I know it’ll always be better than not trying.’
A protester is held down by police as the Dernière Rénovation holds a protest at the Tour De France this month
All of the protesters from Dernière Rénovation being detained by police on Saturday
Eco warriors are seen on the ground at a Tour de France action as an organiser walks by this month
A man from Dernière Rénovation is held down by police as he is put in handcuffs on July 17 as they tried to block Stage 15 of the Tour De France
During a protest on Friday, six protesters – four men and two women – were arrested by French police for another disruption attempt and are set to be hauled into court in November to face trial.
‘At the end of their police custody, the six people were summoned to appear on November 22, 2022 before the Auch criminal court to be tried on the count of obstructing the circulation of vehicles’, Jacques-Edouard Andrault said in a statement.
They are likely to face a two-year prison sentence and a fine of 4,500 euros, local media reported.
Other DR members let off a smoke bomb about 95 miles from the stage’s finish line, between the villages of Boucagnères and Auterive, while five activists glued and chained themselves to the road.
Philippe Gilbert, a rider competing in his final Tour de France, said on Friday: ‘It’s a bit disappointing because there are other ways to protest. I hope they will be punished in proportion to their stupidity.’
Five people were also arrested trying block Stage 15 of the Tour De France on July 17, the group also said.
A protester is held by police wearing a T-shirt saying there are 984 days left as she is arrested earlier this month on July 17
The activists were pulled off the road by police onto the nearby grass, helped by a Tour official earlier this month on July 12
Two of the activists were sitting back-to-back tied together, while others let off smokebombs on July 12 during the Tour De France
The activists sat on the road some 36 kilometres (22 miles) from the finish in Megeve on July 12 before they were removed by police
DR spokesperson Sasha Cantet said: ‘In the absence of a bill on the energy renovation of buildings, which is all the more necessary in the context of the war in Ukraine, we will continue to disrupt the normal functioning of the country, its infrastructure and sports competitions.’
The 10th stage of the Tour de France was also halted for 10 minutes earlier this month after half a dozen climate activists tried to block riders before being hurled out of the road by police and a senior Tour official.
The activists sat on the road some 22 miles from the finish in Megeve on July 12.
The activists were pulled off the road by police, helped by Tour organisers’ Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) general director Yann Le Moenner.
DR also targeted the French Open on June 3 with demonstrations. A young woman ran onto the men’s semifinals and tied her neck to the net while wearing a T-shirt saying: ‘We have 1,028 days left’.
Why do British police REFUSE to deal with eco-protesters like this? Italian security are praised for ripping protesters’ superglued hands off priceless Botticelli and dragging them away
- An Italian security guard showed a refreshing no-nonsense approach to eco-warriors in Florence on Friday
- The out-of-patience official stormed over to the protesters and pulled their superglued hands off the glass
- It struck a jarring contrast to the casualness shown by British guards at the National Gallery this month
- The latest fracas followed protests by Just Stop Oil on the M25, bringing traffic to a halt on Wednesday
ByKaya Terryand Adam Solomons For MailOnline
This is the moment an Italian security guard tears protestors’ hands off a priceless Botticelli painting at a Florence art gallery – in stark contrast to guards at London’s National Gallery, who simply watched on when eco-zealots did the same.
The out-of-patience security official stormed over to the young pair and pulled their superglued hands from the Renaissance masterpiece shortly after they began their short-lived protest in the Uffizi Gallery on Friday morning.
It struck a jarring contrast to the inaction shown by British guards at the Trafalgar Square gallery this month, where Just Stop Oil zealots were allowed to cover over John Constable’s The Hay Wain with their own version.
More than an hour later, Brighton students Hannah Hunt, 23, and Eben Lazarus, 22, were finally arrested.
Enough is enough: the security guard first pulled the man’s hand off the painting (left), before proceeding to remove the young woman from the priceless Renaissance artwork (right). Police then detained the protesters, who had tickets
Yesterday’s protest in northern Italy was perpetrated by an unnamed man and two women from climate activist group Ultima Generazione (‘Last Generation’).
They rolled out a banner which read: ‘Last Generation No Gas No Coal’.
The activists, who had paid for tickets to get into the gallery, were removed from the gallery by police.
Luckily, no damage was caused to the artwork due to the ‘special protections in place’.
The no-nonsense Italian security guard dragged the pair out of the exhibition room, in a striking contrast to Britain’s response
Eco-zealots glue their hands to Botticelli masterpiece Primavera at a Florence art gallery in the latest climate change stunt
Two activists attached themselves to the thin sheet of glass covering the iconic Renaissance painting at 10.30am on Friday
A statement from the gallery read: ‘If there had not been the special protections decided for the main masterpieces of the museum a few years ago by the management, today we would have had an important damage to the work, as happened recently in other museums.’
However the group posted a statement to their website explaining they make sure they take ‘great care’ and research artwork to not cause damage.
They wrote: ‘We have taken great care in order not to cause any damage to Botticelli’s Primavera. Neither the frame nor the glass that protects the canvas was exposed to a risk.
Luckily, no damage was caused to the iconic artwork due to the ‘special protections in place’
The protest was carried out by an unnamed man and two women – from the climate activist group Ultima Generazione ‘Last Generation’ – who rolled out a banner in front of them that read: ‘Last Generation No Gas No Coal’
‘To make sure, we consulted restorers who advised us to use a glue suitable for glass and frames. It is important for us to value art, rather than damage it, as our governments do with the only planet at our disposal.’
The protest comes after Just Stop Oil activists provoked fury earlier this month when they carried out a protest at the National Gallery by covering John Constable’s The Hay Wain with their own version featuring double yellow lines, pollution and a washing machine.
Two students who are eco demonstrators covered the world-famous painting in London with a mock ‘undated’ version including aircraft, before gluing their hands to the frame in a protest against UK oil and gas projects on 4 July.
The group said their reimagined version of the 1821 priceless work, which depicts a rural scene on the River Stour in Suffolk, shows a ‘nightmare scene that demonstrates how oil will destroy our countryside’.
Art historians and experts have all raised concerns that the vandals, two Brighton university students who have appeared at Just Stop Oil protests before, could have caused irreparable damage to the 19th century masterpiece.
Protesters from Just Stop Oil cover John Constable’s The Hay Wain at the National Gallery in London earlier this month
Protesters from Just Stop Oil glue their hands to the frame of John Constable’s The Hay Wain at the National Gallery on July 4
Protesters from Just Stop Oil cover John Constable’s The Hay Wain at the National Gallery in London
The National Gallery later released a statement clarifying The Hay Wain suffered minor damage to its frame and on the painting’s varnish, both of which have been dealt with before it is re-hung in Gallery Room 34.
Dr Adrian Hilton, who is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, previously said: ‘How is this even possible in the National Gallery? I mean, it’s a John Constable masterpiece; a national treasure. Is it really this easy to paper over or – God forbid – destroy it?’
Just Stop Oil activists have carried out similar protests over the past month at art galleries in Glasgow, Manchester and London – while the group blocked a motorway on Wednesday, causing nine hours of traffic chaos on the M25.
Three eco-activists accused of sparking nine hours of traffic chaos by climbing on to the gantry above the M25 are set for trial after pleading not guilty.
Cressida Gethin, 20, Alexander Wilcox, 21, and Emma Mani, 45, are charged with causing a public nuisance following a Just Stop Oil demonstration on Wednesday morning.
They are accused of forcing the motorway to close in both directions by climbing on an overhead gantry and unfurling banners.
They pleaded not guilty at Ealing Magistrates’ Court in west London on Friday.
Specialist police climbers lower a protester via a winch from the climate campaign group Just Stop Oil after they climbed an overhead motorway gantry above the M25
The protester is led away by officers after three different parts of the M25 endured chaos Wednesday with closures and huge backlogs of traffic
The defendants allegedly harnessed themselves to Junctions 14 and 15 on the south-west side in Surrey. The 117-mile M25 encircles London.
Gethin, of Dorstone, Herefordshire; Wilcox, of South Fifth Street, Milton Keynes; and Mani, of High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, were released on bail.
They will next appear at Inner London Crown Court on August 19.
‘Police were notified that protesters were planning on causing disruption on the M25 and therefore police arrived at the scene,’ said Beata Murphy prosecuting at Ealing magistrates court.
‘The decision was made to stop the traffic on the road because it was simply too dangerous and the protesters kept moving across the gantry.
‘There were lengthy tailbacks in both directions. At Heathrow Airport several flights were unable to take off because the staff were unable to get to work.’
The court was told that in total 26 flights were delayed because of the demonstration by Just Stop Oil at the Poyle Interchange, causing ‘incredible loss to the airlines.’
Ms Murphy added: ‘The protesters had harnesses on for safety and stuck to the gantry.
‘Once police were on top of the gantry, protesters went limp and would not comply putting themselves and officers in danger.’
A police van waits as protesters from climate campaign group ‘Just Stop Oil’ climbed overhead motorway gantries on the M25 between junction 14 and junction 15 causing both carriageways to be closed
Defence counsel for Mani, Mr John Briant, said: ‘This is a complex case involving multiple statements and witnesses.
‘I anticipate complex legal arguments and it is totally appropriate to be trialled in the crown court.
‘There are going to be Article 10 and 11 arguments in terms of Human Rights.
‘There will be legal arguments about whether the action amounted to a public nuisance. If it did amount to a public nuisance was there a reasonable excuse.’
He added: ‘There will be arguments about recklessness and arguments about the police and how they reacted and about whether it is proportionate to prosecute.’
The case was sent to the crown court because of its ‘unusual legal complexity.’
In a statement released shortly before the demonstrations, Just Stop Oil said it was ‘declaring the M25 a site of civil resistance’ this week.