Police used a battering ram to break into the building, which used to house the former Lambeth county court, after activists locked themselves inside, Presstv Reported.
The raid was carried out by the Met Police’s Territorial Support Group (TSG), a specialist unit set up in 1987. The TSG has frequently used controversial techniques as part of its public order “containment” mandate.
In early 2016 the TSG was forced to scrap its riot squad following allegations of fraud and bullying.
The TSG’s latest operation targeting peaceful environmentalists comes ahead of protests by Extinction Rebellion around Westminster in central London.
Formed in 2018 in the UK, Extinction Rebellion is a campaigning and protest organization, which uses civil disobedience and non-violent resistance to raise awareness about environmental issues.
Following the police raid, Extinction Rebellion said the TSG had seized tents, toilets, disabled access equipment, wheelie bins, solar panels, hot water bottles, cooking urns and flasks.
Reacting to the raid, Extinction Rebellion said: “This escalation of pre-emptive tactics by the government and police is a sign that we are being heard and acknowledged as a significant movement”.
“We ask that the government focus their attention and resources on responding to the climate and ecological emergency which threatens us all”, the group added.
The TSG’s forceful tactics against peaceful protesters has raised concerns about the Met Police’s broader strategy to suppress dissenting social forces.
Echoing these concerns, Richard Ecclestone, a former police officer who has joined Extinction Rebellion, told the Guardian: “These tactics are very questionable and are arguably infringing on our rights to peaceful protest, and indeed our efforts to preserve people’s right to life that is currently being jeopardized by the government failing to act on the climate and ecological emergency that they know exists”.