When I read that police were invoking emergency powers at an Extinction Rebellion protest in Cambridge I thought: about time, too. It meant, I presumed, that they were not going to make the same mistake as the Met Police last April, when they were too slow to stop this bunch of anarchists closing down public thoroughfares.
But one should underestimate the plods at one’s peril. The ‘emergency powers’ being used by Cambridgeshire Police instead allow them to close the roads without giving any notice. Yes, they are actively facilitating the protest. They turned up in their yellow vests and closed a local road on the activists’ behalf. It will remain shut all week, affecting bus routes and requiring ambulances to make a detour. It isn’t the only way in which the police are indulging the group’s activities in Cambridge. Officers have turned a blind eye to criminal damage being undertaken by the group in digging up the lawn in front of Trinity College.
What is it about Extinction Rebellion that has public authorities pathetically in thrall to it? The group gives the outward impression of being anti-establishment, yet it seems to have deep tentacles inside the establishment which has allowed it privileges not enjoyed by other groups of protesters. Needless to say, like spoiled children (well, many of them are spoiled children) once indulged they merely come back demanding more, pushing boundaries further. They blocked Oxford Circus last year demanding the government declare a ‘climate emergency’ and set up a ‘citizens’ assembly’, and Theresa May’s administration duly obliged.