The activist wanted to ‘inspire people to seize the opportunity offered by the Covid-19 crisis’Extinction Rebellion Cambridge

A Cambridge Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist appeared in court for a hearing on Friday (05/02) on charges of criminal damages, after attempting to create a piece of “inspiring public artwork.”

The local Cambridge artist and activist was arrested in May 2020 for painting onto an empty billboard under the railway bridge on Barnwell Road, with the move taken independently of XR Cambridge.

A press release from XR Cambridge to Varsity states that the completed artwork was intended to carry the message:“Whose city? Our city! Make Cambridge cleaner, safer, and more equal. We have the power to create a better future, cleaner air and water, quieter roads and skies, more equality and understanding, more kindness, more love. Only we can do it. No change. No Future.”

The activist was stopped by the police and arrested soon after starting the work.

According to the press release, the activist wanted to depict a “hopeful message” meant to “inspire people to seize the opportunity offered by the Covid-19 crisis to change the way we live for the better.”

The release added that the activist “wanted to broadcast a message of sustainability, hope and truly ‘building back better’.”


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The statement goes on to say that the “planned artwork” was an “appeal to the people of Cambridge that we can make the changes that we want to see [...] We have a climate crisis [...] a social crisis, [the biggest] divide between rich and poor [...] in the country. This inequality of life was deepening the divide in our communities, the central government was doing nothing to alleviate our fears [but] was actively widening it.”

Extinction Rebellion made headlines in February last year when activists dug up Trinity College’s lawn in a protest demanding the College’s divestment from the fossil fuel industry. Activists returned to Trinity’s lawn last August to continue the protests, after committing to a “fresh wave of action” against non-divested colleges.

Varsity has contacted XR Cambridge for comment.