This is the first week of the 'fresh wave' of XR protestsLucas Anthony Maddalena

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters broke into the University’s Old Schools site this afternoon (13/08) to stage a game of croquet between players symbolising the ‘battle’ between the University and Mother Earth.

The group called for “the University to stop playing games with the lives of people and animals” and “endangering ecosystems.”

Protestors used a ladder to climb the fence at the back of the Old Schools site. XR members also stood at the other side of the fence of the Old Schools shouting the group’s demands and offering moral support when the croquet players were approached by members of University Security.

University Security personnel repeatedly informed the protestors that the land is “private property”, with one member suggesting that “the police will remove them” on grounds of trespassing. No police officers arrived, but two Police Liaison Officers later briefly spoke to XR’s dedicated Police Liaison Officer.

"They're just playing a bit of croquet"Lucas Anthony Maddalena

Alongside University Security staff, who challenged protesters and members of XR positioned at the edges of the protest, porters from Gonville and Caius College also seemed frustrated by the disturbance.


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Members of the public, however, mostly seemed bemused, with one woman overheard saying: “they’re just playing a bit of croquet, they’re not causing any damage”.

XR demand that the University “take direct and indirect investments out of fossil-fuel companies… as well as other planet-killing industries” and urge “that the University reinvests ethically in industries with zero or very low greenhouse gas emissions and a positive social impact”.

One of the croquet players explained to the growing public audience: “we would rather not be out here on a hot day but I’m pretty fed up with the University after five years of campaigning and refusing to take money out of the fossil fuel industry. It [the University] claims that it is a world leader in research into climate and ecological breakdown and yet, after five years, 19 of the colleges have not removed their money from the fossil fuel industry”.

Marcus from XR Cambridge called on the University “to stop playing games with our future and the lives of so many people and animals who are already impacted by climate breakdown all over the world today. If the University thinks that, in 2020, it is acceptable to make money out of planet-killing companies, it is living in the wrong century. It is embarrassing itself and the academic tradition it represents”.

Another spokesperson questioned the private nature of University land, specifically  calling for Senate House lawn to be “public space, not private space”.

The game of croquet lasted for over an hour, with Queen’s ‘Play The Game’ and Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ amongst the songs included in the carefully curated soundtrack to the event.

The protest today follows on from many during the week including this one at Christ'sAmy Batley

Today’s action continues the targeting of colleges earlier this week, which has included protesters spending time outside Christ’s College and graffiting Stuart House which is now owned by Pembroke College. This is part of the group’s ‘fresh wave of action’ in response to colleges not meeting the group's end of July deadline for fully divesting from fossil fuels.

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