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‘Generation nepocide’ unites to stage XR blood protest in Cambridge: Gallery

Climate change is a bloody business. Picture: Jeremy Peters
Climate change is a bloody business. Picture: Jeremy Peters

It looked like a scene from Game of Thrones in the centre of Cambridge on Saturday (November 2), as Extinction Rebellion protesters decked the front of Guildhall with blood and staged mock executions, watched silently by the Red Rebel Brigade.

This was the day for an inaugural appearance by a new group spun out of the protest movement. Extinction Rebellion Cambridge Youth’s first action was a collaboration with Extinction Rebellion Cambridge Grandparents aimed at highlighting the global climate crisis. Called ‘Blood of the Youth’, the occasion was summarised by a poster reading: ‘Are we Good Ancestors?’.

The two key factors driving the climate protesters have been the younger generation and the older generation – those who realise that more could have been done 10, 20, even 30 years ago to avoid getting to this point. Indeed, one of the buzzwords on Saturday was ‘nepocide’, a word coined in February by Extinction Rebellion Prof Tony Booth, which was first used in the Cambridge Independent.

Nepocide means the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations for current convenience.

“Nepocide is the crime of our governments and the corporations they support,” said an Extinction Rebellion (XR) spokesperson. “Ultimately, it is a crime in which we all participate. On Saturday, XR Cambridge’s Youth and Grandparents joined together to demonstrate that we all have blood on our hands and a responsibility to clean up our mess for future generations.”

It's our life: Cambridge, November 2019. Picture: Jeremy Peters
It's our life: Cambridge, November 2019. Picture: Jeremy Peters

“It was sheer theatre,” said one bystander. “They were asking the question are we good ancestors? The older generation were pouring blood over their children and grandchildren. What sort of world are we leaving to the next generation?”

“It was great to have two powerful and symbolic actions in Cambridge so soon after the International Rebellion,” said XR activist Jamie Goodland. “Seeing grandparents and young people working together to demonstrate the intergenerational injustice at the heart of the climate crisis was incredibly moving.”

“We were highlighting in a mythically imagined way what nepocide looks like,” said Red Rebel Linda Richardson. “We arrived quite late and laid roses in the blood, which was very moving.”

The Red Rebels then went to Quayside in Cambridge for the city’s second protest of the afternoon, where they took to punts to broadcast their message along the River Cam.

“About 70 per cent of the water has been lost along the Cam,” Linda said. “The bit we were on was effectively a pond. We picked up the punt from La Mimosa [by Jesus Green] and punted very slowly up to Mill Pond.”

As they went, singers unfurled banners on Magdalene and Silver Street bridges highlighting the water problem – or rather, the lack-of-water problem.

“It was so cold and windy we were shivering like mad,” reports Linda.

Cambridge Red Rebels take to the Cam to highlight imminent water shortage. Pictures: Jeremy Peters
Cambridge Red Rebels take to the Cam to highlight imminent water shortage. Pictures: Jeremy Peters

Jamie was upbeat about the day’s actions: “I spoke to several passers-by who had no idea that we are living on the brink of drought here in Cambridgeshire because of water shortages. Who would know? To the untrained eye, the river doesn’t look any different to normal.”

He added: “More broadly, we know that Extinction Rebellion is bringing the existential crisis we face to the forefront of people’s consciousness.

“Back in October 2018, when XR got started, climate and ecological breakdown was a fringe issue. Look at where we are today – 54 per cent of people say parties’ policies on the climate crisis will influence how they vote in the General Election.

“People won’t always respond positively to the way XR does things, but the important thing is that they think about this catastrophe and take action to bring change. The research shows that once you get 3.5 per cent [of the population] actively involved with a campaign or movement, it is unstoppable.”

The protests about the perceived lack of action with regard to the incoming emergency are becoming more sustained. Last week Cambridge Zero Carbon Society published a comprehensive report into the University of Cambridge’s investment and academic activities with regard to fossil fuel companies, which revealed in detail the university’s exposure to big oil.

Meanwhile yesterday (November 5) the city council met with stakeholders including a representative from Cambridge Schools Eco Council, to discuss the looming water emergency (see page 5).

Meanwhile, it’s closing in on the festive season.

“The Christmas season is coming up and here in Cambridge we will be pointing out to people that consumer culture is one driver of the climate crisis,” Jamie said. “Extinction Rebellion doesn’t blame individuals – we are all caught up in this system. But we need people to wake up and realise that, in Greta Thunberg’s words, ‘change is coming, whether you like it or not’.”

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