Bumps races hit by double protest

Devon Buchanan – News Reporter 22 June 2012

Two separate protests coincided with the last day of the bumps, one of which delayed the races by ninety minutes.

The most visible protest occurred when three activists from Animal Rights Cambridge dressed as swans piloted a boat down the River Cam, preventing the women’s fourth division from racing. The activists paddled to the A14 motorway bridge before turning back while a boat from the Conservators of the River Cam, the body responsible for traffic on the river, looked on. The protesters were arrested for breach of the peace, and released without charge.

Paula from Animal Rights Cambridge told The Cambridge Student, “For the past four years the Conservators of the River Cam have refused to meet with us and the RSPCA to put in place measures to protect the wildlife of the Cam.

Mismanagement has led to nesting ducks being mown over and a swan becoming aggressive after having its young killed by rowers. We’re not against rowing, we just want the river to be managed in a way that lets everything use it.”

The protest was not received well by some spectators on the bank, who booed them. “They’re being selfish”, said Johnny Walker, from Newmarket, “they’re spoiling a traditional day out for hundreds of people when they should be using other ways to put their point across”.

At the time of writing Conservators of the River Cam had not commented on the protest.

In addition to the protest by animal rights activists, there was also a march of about fifteen members of the anarchist group Class War from Senate House to the boathouses.

“We’re here to take action against the Oxbridge Oligarchy”, said Ian Bone, who founded the group in 1983. “All the people who are influential in politics, art, and sport are the same – they all went to Oxford or Cambridge, and they’re all fucking tossers.” A barricade was erected outside Trinity College by the porters, who were implored by Bone to “throw down your bowler hats and join us, comrades”.

Some students passing the march felt it was incendiary and inaccurate. A student from St John’s responded to the march, saying, “There are a lot of state school students in Cambridge who work really hard here, we’re not all toffs. It’s fair enough for them to complain about elitism, but they’re going about it in the wrong way”.

Devon Buchanan – News Reporter