University of Leeds’ Great Hall painted orange by Just Stop Oil protestors

Campaigners criticised the university’s complicity in the global climate crisis

The Great Hall on University of Leeds campus has been defaced by Just Stop Oil protestors.

Sam Holland, a recent Leeds graduate, sprayed the south-facing wall and entranceway of the Grade II listed building with orange paint, shortly after 12:30pm.

via Just Stop Oil

He was joined by fellow Just Stop Oil campaigners, who cheered and chanted “just stop oil” as Holland was detained by police and carried off campus.

Speaking to the crowd as he was arrested, Holland shouted: “I’ve done this because this university is complicit in genocide.

“Our government is licensing new oil and gas projects and that’s genocide for hundreds of millions of people across the world.”

He continued: “This university still has graduate schemes with Equinor. Equinor is the leading oil company in Rosebank. This university is complicit in genocide. We have to act – students across the country have to get into civil resistance; we don’t have long left, this is it.

“This November, hundreds of students are coming to London – this is going to be the biggest episode of civil disobedience this country has ever seen. Be there, November 12th.”

Following his apprehension, other Just Stop Oil members held up the environmental activist group’s banner in front of The Great Hall, as dozens of Leeds students gathered to watch. Campaigners also distributed flyers amongst those both stood and passing by, before police and University of Leeds security teams began to move the crowd away.

One protestor told The Tab: “I’m here today with Just Stop Oil students. We are challenging the university on their complicity in the climate crisis. This is a university that regularly sends delegates to COP26, to Glasgow, and they’re furthering the lie that there are governments around the world taking proportionate action on the climate crisis, which they’re not. That kind of complacency kills.

“We’re here today to ask university students to come with us to London in November, to protest the government’s hundred new oil and gas licenses. This is going to be a mass civil resistance that hasn’t been known for generations and we’re doing it because we’re trying to save our lives, because we know the devastating effects of the climate crisis.”

The protest has been anticipated at the university, and is part of a larger series of coordinated protests at universities around the country. University of Birmingham, University of Exeter, University College London, University of Manchester, University of Sussex and University of Falmouth have all been previously hit.

A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “While we support the right to legal protest, we are hugely disappointed that today’s demonstration led to the vandalism of a university building.

“We are taking a robust approach to tackling the existential challenge of climate change, with a £174 million climate plan which includes our target of delivering net zero emissions by 2030.

“Our policy on responsible investment is to invest in companies that are sustainable and that purposefully set out to solve the problems of people and the planet profitably, without benefiting from causing harm to the world.

“We avoid companies that are materially engaged in certain sectors, including thermal coal, the extraction of fossil fuel from tar sands, oil and gas extraction, production and refining.

“Working collaboratively with our staff and students we will continue to gear our curriculum, research and campus activity to lead climate action locally, nationally and globally.”

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