Students chalked King’s walls today at 1pm, in continuation of a protest against the College’s major investments in fossil fuels.
Two activists were arrested by the police after the sensational stunt.
This time Roger Hallam and his team took it to another level. After spray-painting the front pillars of the Strand building two weeks ago, King’s Climate Change Emergency (KCCE) intensified their actions by spray-painting the walls of the symbolic foyer inside King’s building.
‘Divest From Fuels’ can be seen in green on one pillar, or a black ‘We Can No Longer’ appears above the staircases.
Prospective students visiting the College on Open Day were astonished by the spectacle.
Anthony, a visiting prospective student, told Roar: “Well this is impressive, yet I don’t understand why they are chalking the walls. What is this all about?”
KCCE’s mission is clear: to divest King’s from fossil fuels, energy sources that could according to them “lead to mass starvation and hundreds of millions of refugees”.
The facts are alarming for them: a Freedom of Information request (FOI) made in 2013 revealed that the university invested at least £8 million in fossil fuel companies, including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Rio Tinto, Centrica, Petro China, and China Petroleum. Another study calculated that the College invested up to £10 million in fossil fuel companies – 6.5% of the College’s total endowment.
“There are a lot of institutions around the world that have decided to divest from fossil fuels, not KCL” said Roger, the main activist of the campaign.
He added that the College “already had 30 years to divest, and this is why this is happening today. [The College] is too late, way too late.”
However a senior member of staff responded: “This is a university. Decisions must be considered carefully and sensibly and your campaign is not sensible”
The staff member added: “You have to go in a progressive way, you cannot move faster than society does.”
At 2:15pm, Roger and another activist were arrested and taken by the police: a precedent in the history of political campaigning at King’s.
A King’s spokesperson said: “During a protest at the Strand campus, students sprayed slogans on the walls and staircase of the King’s Building. Two students were arrested by the Police, who are now investigating criminal damage to the Grade I listed building.”
“One of the students has already conducted similar attacks on the university’s buildings on previous occasions and had been asked to refrain from further damaging King’s property. While King’s supports students’ right to peaceful protest, it has a responsibility to protect its historic estate from criminal damage. We are consulting specialists about how to remove the graffiti without causing further damage to the 200-year-old stone work.”
Photography by Afifa Suhail & Cathy Wang
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