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Extinction Rebellion protest in Cambridge causes controversy

Environmentalists dig up the lawn of Trinity College for the university's role in the ‘destruction of Suffolk's nature’

ENVIRONMENTAL group Extinction Rebellion (XR) was mired in controversy today after activists dug up the lawn of Trinity College in Cambridge as part of a week of protests.

The group said the action on Monday was taken against the “destruction of nature” over the Cambridge University college’s role in a major development in the Suffolk countryside.

Trinity College owns Innocence Farm in Suffolk and is attempting to sell the land to the Port of Felixstowe in order to develop a lorry park for 3,000 vehicles, XR Cambridge warned.

Activists then dumped the dug-up lawn inside a local Barclays bank branch.

XR Cambridge also said that the college invested £9.1 million in oil and gas companies — more than any other Oxbridge college.

A 19-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and remains in custody, Cambridgeshire Police said today.

Cambridge Unite Community branch secretary James Youd said that he agreed with “XR’s cause but not with their methods.”

He told the Star: “Prior to Monday they could count on majority support in the city.

“Their vandalism of a college lawn and dumping of mud in a bank has changed that overnight. Without structure or relevant ideas it seems the lunatics have taken over the asylum in Cambridge XR.

“Workers commute into Cambridge as rents and prices are high. Ten years of austerity means rural bus services have been reduced to a skeleton network. People are forced into driving in to earn a living.

“People in Cambridge see XR’s makeup as middle class and white, using their privilege to get away with what the police would never allow our working-class young people to.”

Mr Youd urged XR to lobby the council responsible for bus cuts, and the mayor to provide better public transport instead.

Cambridge council’s Labour leader Lewis Herbert said: “Damaging this much loved Cambridge city centre lawn is unacceptable.

“There are other ways XR you can make your points.”

Members of the public also expressed their outrage on Twitter, but some said that they continued to support the group.

In response to the backlash, XR Cambridge said: “Trinity College should take the opportunity to replant the lawn with flowers. Spring is coming.

“By investing in and working with fossil fuel companies, Cambridge University is betraying its fundamental mission to create a world fit for the future.

“Instead it is actively wrecking it. If you think digging up some grass is disproportionate then you may not understand the crisis.”

A Trinity College spokeswoman said that it respects the right to freedom of speech and non-violent protest but “draw the line” at criminal damage.

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