Climate protest teen descends from 100ft crane in Norwich
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
An Extinction Rebellion protestor has returned to safety after spending two nights halfway up a 100ft crane in Norwich.
Two firefighters helped Alex Sidney, from Dereham, descend from the towering crane on Duke Street at just before 12pm on Monday.
Officers then escorted the 17-year-old away in a van. Norfolk police confirmed he has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, aggravated trespass, breaching Covid-19 regulations and a public order offence.
His descent was met with an applause and chants of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ from members of the activist group.
Dozens of other onlookers also watched the drama unfold.
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Sarah Middleton, 64, from Barnards Yard in Norwich, said the protest was “brave” but raised concerns over the cost of emergency services.
She said: “It is a courageous thing to do but I bet it is costing a fortune. I am here to see him come down safely as it feels uncomfortable having him up here.”
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Clinton Taylor, a heating engineer from Norwich, said he believed Alex had now proved his point.
The 42-year-old added: “I think he should get down now. There are so many police and other people here it must be costing loads of money.
“I think it is good that people protest and stand up for what they believe in but there is a line.”
For Tony Ling, 56, who had stopped to watch the descent on his walk home in Norwich, the protest could have been held in a “better way.”
The security officer added: “He has certainly caught attention from all the big guns and made his point. Considering all the services that are here, perhaps he could have taken a different approach.
“I suppose we will watch this space and see what happens next.”
Firefighter Alan Jaye, station manager at Sprowston, came onto the scene at 9am after relieving the overnight team.
He said fire teams had been at Duke Street in total for more than 72 hours.
Mr Jaye added: “We’ve never seen anything like this in Norfolk before although I imagine it’s different for my colleagues in London.
“We are just here for the rescue side of things and are on standby to help him come down.”
Alex first climbed the crane, which is on a building site, in the early hours of Saturday carrying supplies and Extinction Rebellion posters.
Norwich Police were called just before 6.40am and arrested three people, who have since been released on police bail, in connection with the incident.
The decision to climb the crane came after an Extinction Rebellion protest in Norwich was cancelled due to the second national lockdown.
The teen hopes the protest will spur the government to act sooner on climate change.
Speaking via phone earlier, he said: “The message has not changed at all. I just want the government to get off their backside and do something. We’re in a climate and ecological emergency.
“I’ve also now had people contact me through social media. It has given me the opportunity to educate people and I hope people will act on that and make personal changes.”
Alex was taken to Wymondham Investigation Centre for questioning.