Students dropped banners on King's bridgeLouis Ashworth

Pro-divestment activists staged a triple banner drop from bridges along the River Cam this afternoon in yet another push for the University to divest from fossil fuels.

A group of approximately 20 activists from Cambridge Zero Carbon Society arrived at around 2pm, dropping multiple banners from King’s, Clare, and Garret Hostel bridges, and set off brightly coloured flares over the river Cam.

On Clare bridge, a student with a megaphone led chants “I say fossil, you say free” and “I say cops off, you say campus”. After a minute, a porter arrived, imploring them to stop making noise and noting that the college had “students taking exams”. The protestors continued with a chant of “Hey, ho, fossil fuels have got to do” before the Deputy Head Porter and Senior Tutor arrived.

Orange coloured bombs were set off as activists dropped the bannersDaniel Gayne

The students agreed to be quiet, while negotiating to continue occupying the bridge, claiming that they had misunderstood the first porter as saying that there were students “revising for their exams”.

A Zero Carbon spokesperson told Varsity, that the protestors “weren’t aware” that there were exams going on, saying: “we also have exams, we don’t want to disrupt other students”

On King’s bridge, protestors were told to leave by twenty past two. A porter told the group: “Please don’t come back to King’s.”

Today’s protest, which echoed Zero Carbon’s very first action in November 2015, is the latest in a series of escalating direct actions, including the chalk-spraying of the Old Schools building, a six-day hunger strike, and a 200-strong protest in front of Senate House.

Coloured smoke bombs were seen across all bridgesJonah Surkes
The largest group was gathered on Clare bridgeDaniel Gayne
Punters caught sight of the direct action at 2pmAnna Jennings
The group on King’s and Clare bridges were met with porters asking them to leaveDaniel Gayne
Punters passed beneath the bridges as the protest continuedLouis Ashworth

The banners dropped over the Cam included messages such as ‘Our University, Our Planet, Our Future’ and ‘Racist investments, racist policing’ – the latter seemingly a reference to the forced eviction last Sunday of protesters from Greenwich House, a University administrative building which houses its finance offices. Constant & Co., the enforcement agency chosen by the University, has been criticised by student groups for its involvement in the highly controversial evictions of around 80 traveller families at Dale Farm in 2011.

One punter, going past, commented: “I don’t really know who they’re protesting to.”

In a statement today, Zero Carbon condemned the University’s recourse to force, saying: “The eviction by high court bailiffs was traumatic for all students involved, and it is telling that the University is willing to intimidate and use force on its own members who question its investments in an industry which kills thousands each year”.

The eviction came hours after a county court ruling, pursued by the University to repossess their offices after a seven-day occupation by Zero Carbon members. Occupiers had previously vowed that they would remain on the premises until the University agreed to the demands of “immediate commitment to full divestment from fossil fuels by the year 2022”, and that no disciplinary action be taken against students involved.

The University Council had been expected to come to a resolution on the divestment issue last Monday, but postponed the decision until later this month after councillors failed to come to an agreement on the recommendations of the working group report. The report included multiple recommendations, but not full divestment from fossil fuels.

Rahma Alfarsy, a spokesperson for Zero Carbon, criticised the proposals: “anything less than full divestment is to embrace catastrophic climate change and that is something we cannot accept.

The demonstration made a striking vision on the river CamVarsity

“Students are not afraid of management’s threats and will not be silenced – that was affirmed beautifully in the colourful protest today.

“We will continue to lobby councillors and use the pressure of direct actions to strive towards the just and sustainable future we need, and to put our University on the right side of history.”

Another large rally is expected to take place outside Senate House tomorrow in protest of the University’s use of force at the Greenwich House eviction

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