Four Cambridge Colleges have committed to full divestment since the protest last summer (pictured above)Lucas Maddalena

Three Extinction Rebellion activists, including an NHS worker, a teacher, and a former student of Gonville & Caius College, have been today (25/03) found guilty at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court for criminal damage in XR Cambridge’s ‘Oily-Handed March’ in August last year.

The protest, which formed part of Extinction Rebellion’s ‘summer rebellion’ in 2020, saw activists march through Cambridge from the Senate House in an attempt to highlight “the government’s continued inaction on the climate and ecological emergencies”, with coordinated banner drops across the East of England and an estimated turnout of 100 people in the city.

Some activists covered their hands in fake oil while others dressed as ‘divestment dinosaurs’ and ‘red rebels’, with protestors chalk-spraying black outlines of their hands on the walls of Christ’s, Gonville & Caius, Trinity and the Senate House, according to a press release from Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cambridge.

XR Cambridge told Varsity that one of the defendants, who was arrested dressed as Mother Earth last August, attended court in Peterborough in the same attire today (25/03), and argued: “Powerful institutions knowingly profiting from the destruction of the planet are the real criminals.”


Mountain View

Extinction Rebellion march through Cambridge marking the beginning of their ‘Summer Rebellion’

Meanwhile a local XR member and student at the University said: “The outcome of the campaign was great, but those who were brave enough to take action are now being tried in the courts. Why is their conscientious protection of the planet being treated as a crime? [...] I think it’s absurd and really not okay that peaceful protestors are being treated like criminals for holding the University of Cambridge to account for giving millions to the people and companies who are destroying the planet.”

Since the ‘Oily-Handed March’ in August last year, the University of Cambridge has committed to divestment from the fossil fuel industry by 2030, with Christ’s, Pembroke, Trinity and Corpus Christi all committing to full divestment in the last seven months. Clare Hall also announced full divestment in 2019.

Today’s (25/03) news comes as another XR Cambridge activist recently appeared in court for criminal damages last month after painting a message on an empty billboard under the railway bridge on Barnwell Road, in an independent act from XR Cambridge.

Varsity has contacted the University of Cambridge. Gonville & Caius College declined to comment.