A CARLISLE man arrested as part of the on-going Extinction Rebellion protests insisted he is “not a menace”.

Alisdair McKee, 50, was arrested in London for conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, after joining thousands of protesters on the streets of the capital.

Mr McKee, who runs a catering company, set down his trailer last Monday morning - less than 10 minutes later he was arrested.

“I was there to feed rebels so that they could express their disquiet at the state of the government’s inaction,” he told The Cumberland News.

“At 9.15am we parked up on the pavement, so we weren’t committing the offence of blocking the highway.

“There were police very close by working through the crowds, stopping and searching basically everybody.

“I jumped out and an associate of mine, we both jumped out of the vehicle and unhitched the trailer, dropped the jockey wheel. I got the legs down while my colleague was undoing the cables and the safety chain of the vehicle.

“At 9.22am, I was in cuffs.”

He continued: “We are not a menace to society, we are the broadest demographic that you can imagine; we are everybody.”

Mr McKee said he had various motivations for taking part in the mass protest, one of which was his shock at the way he claims to have seen the police acting towards disabled and elderly protesters.

Following his release, he returned to the site where he had left his trailer and was overcome with emotion to find that protesters had managed to get it up and running, providing food to people.

“From that day on, we continued to feed literally hundreds and hundreds of people,” Mr McKee proclaimed.

“This is the role that I can play: I can support other people so that they can protest effectively, so that they can carry out their actions.

“The whole network is so full of love and care and support.”

Members of Extinction Rebellion in Cumbria have focused their efforts on the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Mr McKee said: “Our issues, the issues that are more relevant to us locally, are directly linked to nuclear power and the extraction of fossil fuels which should actually be left underground.”

The protestors have faced criticism for affecting the lives of the public as opposed to affecting politicians and business leaders.

“I do genuinely empathise with people being inconvenienced by any form of protest, but the protest is required, it is absolutely necessary,” said Mr McKee.

“I would counter that by pointing out the very simple fact that death by climate change is going to be an awful lot more inconvenient to an awful lot more people than any protests that are organised and carried out.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said it could not comment on individual cases, but added: “It is the police’s role is to provide a lawful and proportionate response to any planned protest, balancing the potential impact on the community with the human right to protest.

“At the time of assemblies outside New Scotland Yard on Friday, 11 and Sunday, 13 October conditions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 had been imposed on Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’.

The conditions stated any assembly by those involved in Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ could only lawfully take place in Trafalgar Square. Therefore, the assemblies outside New Scotland Yard were unlawful.

“The MPS does not single out or disproportionately target any group or community. If those involved in an assembly to protest break the law, they are liable to arrest. Those people can also expect to be charged, prosecuted, and receive a criminal record.

“Officers have powers to seize any equipment which they believe will facilitate unlawful protest. Equipment is not seized on the basis of who it belongs to, but on its ability to enable unlawful protest which could cause serious disruption to the community.

“When officers make arrests, they do so with dignity and respect. The health and wellbeing of people in our care and custody is a priority, and we do all that is possible to provide appropriate facilities and support for individuals on a case by case basis.”