Left: Extinction Rebellion Youth Cambridge/Right: Louis Ashworth

Extinction Rebellion Youth Cambridge threw red paint over a bust of Winston Churchill on Tuesday (28/6).

The bust is on permanent display within Churchill College, which was founded by Winston Churchill in 1960.

The climate activist group targeted the College over what they say is “glorification” of the former Prime Minister and called for the statue’s removal.

In a statement, the protesters condemned Churchill’s complicity in “racist” and “deadly” colonial policies such as the suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s.

Through the protest, they sought to draw attention to the “Global North’s exploitation and colonisation of the Global South.”

They also highlighted “the high interest debts owed by the Global South to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund”, saying that “such debts compromise the ability of countries in the ‘Global South’ to respond to climate change and protect their citizens from climate disasters.”

The protest took place as part of the “Debt for Climate” weekend, described as a “global mobilisation” protesting the environmental impact of global debt.

One protester commented: “When respected institutions like Churchill College glorify the leading perpetrators of colonialism, they are actively concealing not only the evidence of historical harms, but the urgent need for current accountability from Global North countries in the face of the climate emergency.”

In 2021, the College abandoned a programme designed to critically reflect on Winston Churchill and his legacy within the College. Churchill fellow, Professor Priyamvada Gopal, accused the College of “taking fright” under pressure from influential groups like Policy Exchange and members of the Churchill family.


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Extinction Rebellion members have previously demonstrated against Winston Churchill's lasting legacy at the College, spraying “Churchill was a racist” onto a College sign last year.

Churchill College has been contacted for comment.