Sheffield student ‘relieved’ after her arrest at climate protests

A Sheffield student arrested at London’s climate protests last week said her “strongest sense was of relief” after she was detained.

Eve Merrall, a Zoology student at the University of Sheffield, was one of over 1,000 demonstrators arrested at the Extinction Rebellion protests, which ended last week.

Speaking about the experience of being arrested, Mrs Merrall, 23, said she was carefully coached by representatives of Extinction Rebellion on how to deal with the police and who to call once she was detained.

She said: “I was quite scared, but everything went really well and the police were really kind and quite sympathetic to what we were doing.

“I can see how it would be quite difficult for someone who was there against their will, because it is quite an unpleasant environment.

“You’re all by yourself, you don’t have any idea what the time is or when you’re going to be released.”

Extinction Rebellion – known as XR – officially formed in October last year.

In the same month, the organisation released a letter signed by nearly 100 academics, which called for urgent action to curb the effects of earth’s “sixth mass extinction”, a crisis caused by climate change.

Since then, XR groups have sprung up all over the world in response to growing concerns about the effects of climate change.

The group’s core demand is for the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2025, a move that would require wartime-scale mobilisation.

According to Mrs Merrall though, the recent London protests, described by organisers as the biggest civil disobedience event in modern British history, could represent a watershed moment in the fight for climate action.

She said: “I have a lot of hope now, with people like Greta Thunberg and the youth strikes, and with the movements all over the world.

“It’s really interesting to me how many people have been quietly worrying about this issue and not really knowing what to do about it, and have suddenly seen something they can get involved in.

“When I was arrested, my strongest sense was of relief, that I felt like I could actually relax because I was really doing everything that I could.”