Fury has erupted after "outnumbered" police simply look on as Extinction Rebellion protesters shut down London for a second time - despite the group publishing a full list of targets and Boris Johnson ordering officers to use "the full force of the law" on the crowds.
A stone's throw from Parliament on Westminster Bridge a solitary officer was filmed merely standing and watching as demonstrators planted a shrubbery across the road to bring traffic to a standstill.
Around the capital at more than a dozen protest sites hundreds of protesters easily overran a relatively modest police presence, prompting onlookers to suggest police were unable to cope with the huge numbers of activists.
But the group's intended locations and tactics were published in advance and this morning the senior officer in charge of the force's response insisted: "Where behaviour is unlawful, and obstructing the highways for significant periods of time ... we will deal with - and we will deal with robustly."
Police have yet to confirm how many officers have been deployed, or why their numbers were insufficient to keep routes open and traffic flowing in the face of XR's stated aim of a protest five times bigger than that in April, which saw more than 1100 arrests.
Today was the first day of a planned fortnight of disruption by Extinction Rebellion, bringing chaos to London as they shut down key routes in the city.
Protesters were joined by eco-luvvies Daisy Lowe, Mark Rylance, Ruby Wax and Juliet Stevenson in Trafalgar Square as they shut down the landmark.
For the next two weeks XR - which has posted details and maps of its planned disruptions in advance - intends to cripple the capital with 217 protesters arrested already since the protests began at 7am today.
One senior member warned ahead of the protests that if police shut them down: "We have other plans that are more disruptive".
Commuters vented their fury about long delays and miles of queues as they criticised the XR "hypocrites" causing more pollution by forcing cars to sit idling, while others blasted the "nuisances" who had ruined their journeys.
Today streets around Westminster were packed with police threatening to arrest anyone blocking roads - but witnesses said they were being swamped because of the number of eco-zealots gathering on streets and bridges.
One group locked themselves inside a car parked in the middle of Whitehall close to Downing Street and the Cenotaph - others chained themselves by the arms and head to a hearse parked in Trafalgar Square and glued themselves to scaffolding poles.
It has become common for the detained protesters to be carried by police, because they try to cause maximum disruption by refusing to walk to the van - meaning it can take up to six officers for each arrest.
On one end of Lambeth Bridge protesters started to build a house before climbing on top when police tried to dismantle it while Smithfield Market, London's largest meat market, was 'occupied' by 500 people starting with a minute's silence for the dead animals there and around the world.
Describing the scene close to Westminster Abbey, one onlooker said: "Half of them are smoking weed, have cheap fold up tents that will just get binned and there is a bunch sitting in Pret".
Others wearing XR badges and carrying XR flags were seen getting lunch in McDonald's on Whitehall.
TV stars were at the environmental group's 'opening ceremony' under Nelson's Column as thousands closed major bridges, blocked numerous roads and even invaded The Mall during the Changing of the Guard where Rylance helped carry a giant banner saying: "extinction or rebellion".
Lowe posed next to Big Ben with friends including actress Jaime Winstone, popstar Eliza Caird, best known as Eliza Doolittle, and TV producer Emily Ann Sonnet who said: "Life is already extinct. It's just a matter of saving what life we have left".
Government ministers are understood to be looking at whether protesters who damage parts of London can be held financially responsible.
In an Extinction Rebellion stunt last week, fake blood was sprayed over the Treasury – although much of it ended up going back over the demonstrators themselves.