May Day: Three arrests at Cambridge ‘Rebellion of One’ climate protests
There were three arrests in Cambridge this weekend as Extinction Rebellion staged a Saturday ‘Rebellion of One’ protest, with activists sitting unaccompanied in roads across Cambridge, joining others across the East of England and the rest of the UK to bring traffic to a standstill.
Facing oncoming traffic to get their message heard, each protester wore a sandwich board carrying a message explaining their reason for participating in direct action against what the climate action group calls government inaction in the face of climate breakdown.
Eight individual campaigners blocked roads across the city at locations – the intersection of Downing Street and St Andrew’s Street; outside the Round Church; on Chesterton Road; on Trumpington Street outside Fitzbillies, on Newnham Road, on Victoria Avenue, on Mill Road and at the Hills Road junction outside the Catholic Church.
In front of the Catholic Church on Hills Road, one woman chose to sit down with the protester. The act of solidarity saw Extinction Rebellion say on social media: “This is the unbreakable solidarity between people who know the climate crisis is killing millions of people every year and, unlike UK government, cannot simply ignore it.”
The solidarity didn’t help the protester, who was subsequently arrested along with two other activists: at least one of the arrests was for obstruction of the highway.
Hundreds of Rebellion of One protesters peacefully blocked roads “to show that they will no longer stand by while the UK government misleads the public about its plans to tackle the environmental crisis, which far fall short of the action needed to address the escalating climate and ecological emergency”.
One protester, from Cambridge, said: “I am sitting in the road today because it is an extreme and dangerous thing to do to try to wake people up to the extreme and dangerous climate emergency we are in. People have a right to know the facts but they are not being told the truth by the government or the media. Sir David Attenborough told the UN Security Council that our current course risks ‘the collapse of everything that gives us security’ including ‘food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature, and ocean chains’.
“Despite this, our government is making no real progress towards even its own inadequate climate targets, and knows it. Even in the year they host COP26, the recent Budget inexplicably cut £1bn from spending to reach net zero carbon emissions. They are allowing airport expansions, a new coal mine, the environmentally destructive HS2 project, operating a ‘build, build, build’ policy rather than ‘refurbish, reuse, insulate’ and failing to push for banks and financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels. This government continues to put profit before the planet, failing in their duty to protect us.”
She went on: “I am a mother and a teacher and I want young people everywhere to have the chance of a life with water, food and physical security. People are already dying in the global south due to climate change and if urgent steps are not taken by governments across the world this will lead to mass migration and war.”
Speaking to some members of the climate action group as they left the protest, the talk was all about next week’s elections. Topics being discussed included doughnut economics – is this the post-growth economic model which might save us? – and the OxCam Arc, a corridor between Oxford and Cambridge where one million new homes are due to be built.
Over on Parker’s Piece the Kill the Bill protest was getting ready to demonstrate against the new Policing and Crime Bill which is making its way through Parliament, supported by Black Lives Matter campaigners. The new legislation hands increased powers to the police, but the proposed laws “clearly violate international human rights standards, and they constitute a savage attack on the right to peaceful assembly”, say legal experts.
The UK Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency two years ago today (May 1).
Cambridgeshire Police were approached for comment.