Thousands sign petition against Extinction Rebellion protest
Extinction Rebellion Cambridge has begun the second day of their round-the-clock roadblock in the city centre, as thousands sign a petition against the action.
The climate activists took to Trumpington Road and the Fen Causeway at 9am on Sunday (February 16) where they have remained since as part of their Rebel for Justice protest.
Police have used emergency powers to close Fen Causeway and Trumpington Road to mitigate any disruption.
Rush-hour traffic has been affected this morning (Monday, February 17) as well as bus routes which are being diverted.
Businesses and venues in the city centre, including Cambridge Corn Exchange, have urged people to check before they travel.
Almost 3,000 people have now signed a petition calling for an end to the roadblock.
Petition organisers say they are fed up with disruption and lawbreaking, and are demanding proper action by the police and authorities.
Co-organiser of the petition Matt Bird said: “We must tackle climate change, but this goes well beyond reasonable protest.”
The week-long protest follows the issuing of three demands from XR Youth Cambridge.
- The University of Cambridge must cut ties with the fossil fuel industry.
- Cambridge City Council must hold a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Justice.
- Cambridgeshire County Council must work with other relevant regional authorities to provide a plan for a just transition away from an inadequate transport system reliant on fossil fuels
Amelia Halls, a member of XR Youth Cambridge who are leading the action, said: “We have given these three institutions since the new year to respond to our demands.
“Although we have had some promising conversations, warm words have not been backed up by action and we don’t have time for more hot air.
“Time is running out for people all over the world who are already suffering and dying because of climate collapse.
“We are in the sixth mass extinction and soon it will be too late to do anything about it. The city council, county council and Cambridge University need to act like we’re in an emergency because that’s exactly where we are.”
Mr Bird responded: “One of XR’s demands is that Cambridge City Council surrenders significant powers to an unelected citizens’ assembly.
“It’s unacceptable for this undemocratic group to hold Cambridge to ransom and we are calling for the police to act immediately to remove this roadblock.”
He says at least one ambulance has already been prevented from passing the roadblock, but XR says ambulances have been briefed to re-route.
South Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP Anthony Browne criticised Cambridgeshire police’s decision to close Fen Causeway and a section of Trumpington Road, saying: “However well intentioned, demonstrators cannot be allowed to flagrantly break the law.”
George Owers, the other co-organiser of the petition, added: “There is no balance to be struck between illegality and legality. These protests are illegal, pure and simple: they are contrary to the 1980s Highways Act.
“If anyone else broke the law in this way, they would be arrested. It seems that there’s one rule for middle-class white protesters, and another for everyone else.”
More by this authorGemma Gardner