Climate protest teen remains on 100ft crane until he gets ‘mild hypothermia’
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
An Extinction Rebellion protester remains 100ft up a crane in Norwich several hours after scaling the structure.
Alex Sidney, 17, from Dereham, climbed the towering crane on Duke Street early on Saturday morning carrying a sleeping bag, supplies and several banners promoting the climate protest group.
Police officers and firefighters remained at the scene just before 6pm.
Speaking by phone earlier in the day the bike builder said: “If I get arrested now or if I get arrested in nine hours the consequences will be the same so I might as well stay out for a bit longer.”
“There’s no way I’m going to run away from this.
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“I’m up here to tell the government and the council to get up off their backsides and do something, because I’m worried about the climate.
“I’m desperate because there’s no easy fix, there’s no alternative, and my generation are the ones inheriting this planet - so I really want to try and not let it go to waste.”
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Alex said he would remain on a gantry outside the crane’s cab for an “indefinite” time, although rain forecast in the area later on Saturday could force him back to the ground.
“It’s not too bad up here, actually, it’s just a bit windy right now,” he added.
“But we’re forecast for rain here and I haven’t got a tent or tarpaulin to cover me, so it’s not going to be a very fun night. I will probably end up getting down when I get completely drenched and start to get mild hypothermia.
“For now, my main aim is to ensure that these banners stay here.”
The teen, who said the event was planned a few days ago, said he had never been up as high as this on a crane before, adding it was quite a task getting up there with a really heavy bag.
They had arrived at the site shortly before 4am today expecting it to be difficult to access the site.
But he said there was no security and started climbing at about 4.20am.
He said it took “about 15 minutes” for him to get up there.
He said he has received “quite a lot of support” on social media.
Norwich Police were called to the scene just before 6.40am and have arrested three people in connection with the incident.
Officers remain in attendance and have asked members of the public to avoid the area.
Alex said he has with him a sleeping bag, cushion, food, water, stove, basic tools and battery packs, along with his phone and a speaker for music.
Extinction Rebellion Norwich spokesman James Graham said the crane protest went ahead in place of a much larger demonstration which had to be postponed due to the national lockdown in England.
“The message, fundamentally is that while we know Covid is an immediate problem it does not trump the reality that our world is changing faster than the life on it, including us, can handle,” Mr Graham told PA.
“We need a radical change in the way we do things to change that, now.
“Yes, obviously working at height can be dangerous but in addition to the health and safety measures already in place on site to minimise the risk of accidents, Alex is a bright young man who is fully invested in his own safety.
“None of us want to see anyone getting hurt and we risk assessment all our actions beforehand.
“It was decided that this needed to be done as the risks of inaction on the climate and ecological emergency far outweigh any risks being taken by XR to curb inspire action.”
Mr Sidney has been posting on his Facebook page throughout the day, highlighting his cause and flagging up links to a previous story on our website.
Last month, he posted a photo of a flier about “non-violent civil disobedience” planned for November 7, by Extinction Rebellion Youth.
A police van, two marked police cars and a Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service van remained on the scene at around 6pm.
City College Norwich student Jack Cleeton, 18, from Duke Street, Norwich, said: “It is going to be very cold up there. It is pretty high. He is 17 with a purpose so must be very driven. I don’t know many 17-year-olds who would do something like this.”
His father said: “He wants to make his point but his life is important too.”