Photo Credit: Michael-Akolade Ayodeji

BREAKING: Just Stop Oil throws paint at Radcliffe Camera

Reporting by Daisy Outram, Milo Dennison, Martin Alfonsin Larsen, Rose Henderson, Valida Pau, and Tasneem Jodiyawalla.

Environmental activist group Just Stop Oil has sprayed its signature orange paint at the Radcliffe Camera today.

The police have arrested activists Daniel Knorr, 21, and Noah Crane, 18, who were taking part in a sit-down protest outside the library and confiscated the paint they used. The Radcliffe Camera is a Grade 1 listed building.

Protestors were handing out flyers advertising welcome talks the group will be running today and in the next few weeks. 

This comes a day after a student at the University of the West of England sprayed the University of Bristol‘s Queen’s Building with orange paint, urging “students and faculty staff to join in civil resistance’ for Just Stop Oil.

Daniel Knorr is a student at the University, studying Biochemistry. He protested at Lord’s during the Ashes cricket series this summer and became famous after being carried off the pitch by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. He commented:

“I am taking action to resist the destruction of my generation. Oxford academics are fully aware of the scale of the climate crisis – this year Oxford scientists said that in a few years climate breakdown will routinely expose people to unsurvivable heat and humidity. In other words, hundreds of millions of people will be forced to move, or die. This is mass murder. It is genocide. It is no good to study the annihilation of everything we care about and do absolutely nothing about it, we have to act!” 

Just Stop Oil identifies itself as “a coalition of groups working together to ensure that the government commits to ending all new licences and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK”.

It garnered attention and criticism from its use of direct action to protest, including throwing soup over Vincent van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers painting in the National Gallery. 

One student remarked that she could “see the point of defacing buildings”, but was uncertain as to whether this was the best approach. She expressed that it “tends to alienate people from the cause”, and that this contributes to the view that all climate protesters are “making trouble rather than making any positive change”.

Another student expressed her support for the cause, saying she was “really happy” that “Oxford students are getting involved”.

A student spokesperson for Just Stop Oil emphasised the need to protest, describing the university as “one of the pioneers in climate science” and the effect of fossil fuels, and expressing that it is “egregious” that the university is taking donations of £100m from INEOS to fund the Life and Mind Building. They also criticised the university for hosting companies such as Equinor at the careers and finance fairs, which “goes directly against the science they are publishing”.

A few hours after the event, University staff were spotted attempting to wash the paint off using hoses.

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford commented:

“One of Oxford’s library buildings, the Radcliffe Camera, was vandalised with orange spray paint during a Just Stop Oil protest today. The University does not support illegal action, including any unlawful protesting, and may, within its powers, take any steps it considers appropriate against any student guilty of such behaviour. Access to the library has been temporarily redirected and steps are under way to remove the paint.”

A spokesperson for the Bodleian Libraries commented:

“Earlier today, the Radcliffe Camera was defaced with spray paint, during a Just Stop Oil protest. As a result, library access was temporarily redirected to avoid the damaged parts of the building. Our priority at this time remains ensuring that readers have access to our collections, removing the paint and restoring the building to its previous state.”

Image Credit: Milo Dennison