The Extinction Rebellion campaigners who shut down major streets and attempted to stop commuter trains last year have taken up a new tactic: Digging holes in the ground. Today, that took place at Trinity College:
Trinity College Cambridge is famed for the perfectly manicured lawns upon which former scholars like Sir Isaac Newton may have ruminated on life’s most impenetrable questions.
Today, however, its lawn was the staging post for an Extinction Rebellion protest as activists dug trenches and chained themselves to an apple tree grafted from the one said to have inspired Newton…
Nathan, a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion who declined to give his last name, said the group arrived at 9am to dig up the lawn and were unopposed by college porters.
“Doing these symbolic, disruptive actions is one of the ways in which we can drive the conversation into how we respect nature and get off fossil fuels as a country,” he said.
Here’s what it looked like.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 18, 2020
The digging was intended as a protest against Trinity College’s potential sale of farm land for development. After digging up the lawn, some of the earth was brought to a local Barclay’s Bank where it was dumped inside:
Walking from Trinity College to the Barclays Bank on St Andrew’s Street the group carried the dirt in wheelbarrows before dumping it in the foyer of the bank.
The protesters then proceeded to lie down in the dirt, similar to the ‘die-in’ style of protest they hold.
Here’s a photo taken by David Johnson and published by Cambridgeshire Live:
No one was apparently arrested for destroying the lawn but the BBC reports the action has been “recorded” for criminal damage:
A Cambridgeshire Police spokeswoman said the force was liaising with the college and that “a crime has been recorded for criminal damage”…
A Trinity spokeswoman said the college “respects the right to freedom of speech and non-violent protest but draws the line at criminal damage and asked the protesters to leave”.
But the “direct action” did not make a favorable impression on everyone:
Local businessman Dr Tim Norman described the action as “counter-productive vandalism”.
He said: “[It] seemed to confuse the tourists too, as it wasn’t clear what they were doing it for.”
This isn’t the first time Extinction Rebellion has used this tactic. Last week the group made news for a similar stunt digging up grass outside the Home Office. The Telegraph published this video last Thursday: