A protestor from Just Stop Oil this morning (October 12) was arrested after spray painting the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons.
The protestor, Ruby Hamill, who The Mancunion understands was not a student at the University of Manchester, was arrested soon after spraying the building in Just Stop Oil’s characteristic orange paint.
She was then carried by several police into a police car before being transferred into a police van. Several police attended the scene, two of whom had guns.
At the news of her arrest, loud cheering was heard, interspersed with chants of “Just Stop Oil!” Large numbers of students congregated to watch the protest, as volunteers from Just Stop Oil handed out leaflets advertising student welcome talks.
Eve, a UoM graduate and member of Just Stop Oil who witnessed the event, said: “the University of Manchester takes money from fossil fuels” that give it a “social license to f*ck up our planet.”
The University of Manchester, after students from People and Planet occupied the John Owens building for seven days in 2019. previously agreed that the University would decarbonise their investment portfolio.
She further added that “our demands are that students and academics come and march with us in London.” Eve continued to explain that in November, a group of students would “slow march to the point of arrest.”
Another witness and Just Stop Oil member claimed that he was attempting to give the protestor legal advice, but was interrupted by police who asked him to move back repeatedly.
Before her arrest, the protestor posed for photos with a copy of George Monbiot’s Regenesis. The graffiti was cleaned off the building within the hour.
Speaking before the protest today, Hamill said: “I’m taking action to call out the hypocrisy of Manchester University, an academic institution which is fundamentally betraying its students. Taking money from oil and gas firms means being complicit in their greenwashing.”
The Manchester Branch of Just Stop Oil added: “The action in Manchester was one of a series of actions […] targeting universities across the UK for their complicity in fuelling the climate crisis.”
Throughout the week, Just Stop Oil have been targeting universities as part of their campaign. On October 12, the group “oranged” the portico at UCL and KCL. The University of Oxford, Birmingham, and Exeter are included in the list of universities targeted.
A University spokesperson said: “We are aware of a protest carried out on our campus today as one of our buildings was vandalised with orange paint. Campus security and police attended to ensure safety and cleaning staff have removed the paint.
“While we respect the right to peaceful protest, within the law, we cannot tolerate vandalism and disruption affecting staff, students and visitors.
“We would like to state that we absolutely recognise the importance of tackling the climate crisis. In 2019 we declared our own climate emergency and have since committed to zero carbon in our own operations by 2038. We now have an updated environmental sustainability strategy and are investing tens of millions of pounds into this.
“Our wide ranging research activity across all aspects of the climate crisis is significant and world-leading. Much of this work is grouped under our Sustainable Futures Platform.
“Our commitment to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) is unmatched. The SDGs are the world’s call to action on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity and the natural world We’re the only university in the world to rank in the top ten in every year of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.”