17 february 2020

Extinction Rebellion protesters dig up Cambridge college lawn

Action at Trinity part of week-long protests over ties between colleges and fossil fuel industry

Reuters, Mon 17 Feb 2020

Extinction Rebellion protesters have dug up the lawn of Trinity College, Cambridge, as part of a week-long series of demonstrations.

The climate activists dug channels into the turf in front of the college’s 16th-century great gate with shovels and pitchforks and planted Extinction Rebellion flags.

Trinity had stepped up security, closing the college, library and chapel to tourists for the week to prevent protesters from accessing the central great court.

A college spokeswoman refused to comment on Monday’s incident but said a statement would be released later.

Extinction Rebellion calls for non-violent civil disobedience in an effort to force governments to cut carbon emissions to tackle the climate crisis.

“Trinity College must cut ties with fossil fuel companies and stop trying to hawk off nature for profit,” Extinction Rebellion Cambridge said on its Facebook page. “Oh, and it should take the opportunity to replace the lawn with flowers. Spring is just around the corner after all.”

In anticipation of the week’s protests, another Cambridge colleges, St Catharine’s, closed the main gate leading to its 17th-century court over concerns that protesters would set up a campsite on the grass.

“One of Extinction Rebellions oppositions is to green space being kept behind walls and only accessible to those in power and privilege,” said an email sent to students by the college’s head porter.

“Although our main court is actually open for viewing, there is a concern they may try to take it over and possibly camp on it.”

Earlier this year, a group of students at the University of Oxford set up a camp in the front quad of St John’s for five days in protest against the college’s investment in fossil fuel companies.

Inspired by this, climate protesters in Cambridge put up tents on the lawn in front of King’s.

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