EXTINCTION Rebellion today sparked fury as they hijacked the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day with climate change banners.
Their protest caused anger among the British public and war veterans as their controversial message was unveiled just hours before the official Armistice Day ceremony.
The banner read “Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War” and was placed next to the iconic memorial in central London.
Former British soldier Donald Bell, 64, led the protest and laid a wreath of poppies with the message “Act Now” written on it at 8am.
Almost two hours later cops were seen removing the wreath from the Cenotaph.
Their protest has sparked fury, with people branding the eco-warriors “scum”.
Victoria Cross holder Johnson Beharry slammed protesters for disrespecting his fallen comrades.
PROTEST SPARKS FURY
The war hero told The Sun: “Today of all days? It is the 11th of the 11th. It is Remembrance Day. They are really disrespecting our fallen.
“If we hadn’t sacrificed our lives they would not be able to go and protest today. They should remember that.”
Colour Sgt Beharry was on his way to Westminster Abbey for a special service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior.
The remains of a British soldier were brought back from the Western Front two years after the end of the war to represent the half a million soldiers who were lost or unidentified at the end of World War One.
He told The Sun: “There is a time and a place for everything. Yes, they have a campaign and a reason to protest.
Today of all days? It is the 11th of the 11th. It is Remembrance Day. They are really disrespecting our fallen.”
“But I would not have chosen a day like today, which is actually Remembrance Day to disrespect our fallen like that.”
Major General Richard Barrons, a former joint chief of the armed forces, urged the protesters to respect the military’s sacrifice.
He said: “It is a good thing if organisations like Extinction Rebellion recognise the sacrifice made over centuries by our armed forces.
“But if they have done it in a way that is disrespectful for the many people for whom this is a vital act of remembrance then I think they have made a mistake.”
Others slammed the group online. One person wrote: “Truly shameful: Extinction Rebellion have placed a ‘climate change means war’ wreath upon the Cenotaph.
“These privileged prats seem to be doing all they can to turn public opinion against them.”
Another person added: “There is a place and a time….and THIS ISN’T IT.
“Were it not for those who fought & died….these self righteous ‘woke’ extinction rebellion lot wouldn’t even see light or day!
“IT’S THAT SIMPLE! Hence….’NO RESPECT’.”
Another person wrote: “Extinction Rebellion really know how to lose support for their cause.
“Their members are now designated to the rank of scum. They need a new PR representative.”
There is a place and a time….and THIS ISN’T IT.”
Another added: “Can you think of more insult to the nation & to the sacrifices of the dead than the action by those spoilt brats?”
British Army veteran and Extinction Rebellion member, Mr Bell, held a two-minute silence before hanging the wreath.
Private Bell, 64, completed four tours in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and wanted to warn that a global climate crisis could lead to more armed conflicts.
He told Mirror Online: “This government is criminally negligent and young people today will pay the price for their failure.
“I did four tours in Northern Ireland. I have been in conflict. I saw good friends – my comrades, who I served with – die.
“Many of the people who attend the Remembrance Day Service have never seen the horrors of war. I hope they never have to.
I knew that I would be accused of being disrespectful and hated by many for speaking out in this way.”
“However you feel about the action today, I want people to take this message – if we don’t deal with this climate emergency, now, it will lead to war.”
Private Bell, who was badly injured in a car bomb blast in 1974, knew that his action would be criticised – but went ahead with it anyway.
He added: “I took action today knowing that I would be criticised.
“I knew that I would be accused of being disrespectful and hated by many for speaking out in this way.
“Remembrance Day is never an easy time for veterans and this was not an easy decision for me to make.
“But I served this country, I served the people of this country and the action I took today is about just that.
“Unchecked climate change means a return to a world at war. I cannot stand by and let that happen. It is my duty to act.
“I am going to be one of the most hated veterans on the planet for some time.
“At previous protests I had people telling me I should be ashamed to wear my uniform.”
In September, Extinction Rebellion activists were arrested after the Winston Churchill statue was defaced.
The iconic monument was sprayed with the word “racist” in yellow graffiti – the third attack in as many months.
It came after the historic memorial outside Parliament was targeted twice in as many days during the Black Lives Matter protests in June.
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Masked yobs were seen leaping on cars as thousands of XR protesters gathered in central London.
At least 648 people were arrested during the environmental action in September.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This appalling vandalism is completely unacceptable.
“It will be fully investigated and the statue will be cleaned as quickly as possible.”
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