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Students protest for 'Arms out of Bristol' outside Royal Fort Gardens

Three students doused themselves in fake blood in a protest outside of the University of Bristol's Royal Fort Gardens on Friday 8th December.

By Amelia Jacob, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Three students from the University of Bristol covered themselves in fake blood outside the Royal Fort Gardens at around 1pm on Friday 8th December as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest. 

The students were joined by members of Extinction Rebellion Youth Bristol (XRYB), a youth wing of Extinction Rebellion in Bristol for young people up to the age of 30.

Two protestors held a banner reading 'BLOOD OUT OF EDUCATION' on the pavement opposite Senate House, as the three students knelt on tarpaulin and were covered in fake blood.

A view of the protest from Senate House // Image courtesy of Georgia Rowe

XRYB states the protest 'marks the start of XRYB’s new ‘Arms out of Bristol' campaign', as they call for the University to 'cut ties with arms companies.'

The group criticise the University's 'partnerships' with Rolls-Royce, Thales, AirBus, QuintiQ and Leonardo, including 'careers links with these companies and more.' 

They claim 'the University also benefits financially from partnerships, having received at least £12 million from arms companies in the last 7 years.'

As part of this campaign, XRYB demands that the University 'commits to end all research partnerships with arms companies by 2030; immediately ends all promotion of arms related careers and delivers a green transition away from arms funding and relations.'

Kit, a spokesperson for XRYB, said: 'The University of Bristol claims to be committed to tackling the climate crisis, but its continued collusion with arms companies suggests otherwise. 

'It’s estimated that 5-6% of global Co2 emissions are from armed forces and industries, which is more than all civil aviation. Also, the use of arms themselves is environmentally devastating, destroying ecosystems and killing animals and people with bombing, chemical warfare, and scorched earth tactics. Over 1.7 trillion pounds is spent globally each year on arms which should be being spent on solutions to the climate crisis, such as the development of renewable energy technologies, rather than further environmental destruction.  

'UoB must immediately abandon ties with arms companies, seeking funding from and partnership with industries genuinely committed to environmental protection in place of that from the arms industry, and use the valuable expertise, skills, and innovation of its STEM departments to help tackle the climate crisis.'

In response to the protest, a spokesperson for the University of Bristol said:

'We respect our students’ right to raise concerns about issues they feel strongly about and we will continue to listen to and engage with their views.

'It’s important to remember that defence companies do a lot more than arms manufacturing and development. All partnerships undergo stringent due diligence checks and ethical review first, ensuring the University is using its expertise to influence positive change. One example is creating materials for lighter, more fuel-efficient cars and planes which will benefit the environment.

'These connections also mean that we can provide our students with information about a wide range of organisations offering placements and graduate jobs at our careers fairs so they can make personal informed decisions about their future careers.'

Featured image courtesy of Grace Warry

What do you think about XRYB's protest today?