Social media users were enraged after police in the British city of Bristol warned parents that children could be crushed during a climate protest attended by environmentalist Greta Thunberg. Avon and Somerset Police said they will be unable to provide adequate security measures at the Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration as thousands of people are expected to attend the event, including people from other parts of Britain.
"Social media has gone viral with interest which leads me to believe it will be thousands of people. We have confirmation of people travelling from across the UK by car, bus, coach, and train. In terms of big crowds, they are dynamic in nature and there is the potential for trips, slips, falls, and crushing", said Superintendent Andy Benett.
The news sparked a furore on social media with people saying that the event should be cancelled.
Clearly two points here:— Barry Morton (@barry_morton) February 26, 2020
1. If Police cannot ensure public safety the protest should be made illegal and cancelled.
2. If teachers allow kids to walk out of school mid morning then they are neglecting their duty of care & rightly should be prosecuted.#GretaThunberg #stopgreta
If safety precautions are not good enough then cancel th protest.— Stuart Moss (@stumoss62) February 26, 2020
Some social media users expressed frustration over the event being approved despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Although most of the cases (78,000) have been reported in mainland China, the World Health Organisation said that the number of new incidents reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country.
So they are cancelling events so that large groups of people don’t gather because of the virus outbreak yet they are letting this fiasco go ahead.— Chipara (@Chipara) February 26, 2020
Irresponsible considering there’s a potential global epidemic— Chipara (@Chipara) February 26, 2020
Others were annoyed that the climate protest is being held in Britain instead of countries considered the biggest polluters.
Yeah let's forget Beijing or Delhi which both have deathly thick smog. Lets protest in the most middle class, lefty, green city in the UK. Who needs to go to school when you can land yourself a token Nobel prize and multi million dollar book deal.— Barry Arnold 🇬🇧🇺🇲 (@barryar88107010) February 26, 2020
She’d have been better going to China to protest rather than coming to a country that only produces just over 1% of the worlds pollution— Stephen (@steff70698588) February 27, 2020
Some netizens were upset at the event being held on a weekday, when children should be in school.
The best thing to combat climate change is for the kids to get educated in schools and not standing in protest. Get back to school.— Glenn Maxfield (@GlennMaxfield) February 26, 2020
What other person that is not a British citizen would be allowed to encourage our children to skip school?— colmcc (@colinm123) February 26, 2020
And what happened to the law that states parents are required to apply for permission to take kids out of school during term time?
Some users claimed the event is just a chance for many children to skip school and said if the climate protest had been organised during the weekend most wouldn’t bother to attend.
Have the protest on a saturday and see how many students bother to get out of bed.😴😴😴— Anthony leblanc (@Anthony39610649) February 26, 2020
@GretaThunberg try asking school kids to protest on a weekend and see how many don’t bother to turn up. Holding protests on school days, denying kids of their education -as what kid doesn’t want an excuse to bunk off school. Your parents are exploiting you @GretaThunberg— Troy (@Troy2409) February 26, 2020
Paraphrasing the popular saying: If you want to change the world, start with your room.
Others criticised Thunberg for being a puppet of the left and for the lack of proposals on how to improve the environment.
What suggestions has Greta made to tackle climate change? I'd like someone tackle her on this - otherwise, without lack of a clear ideas, she's just ranting— Stuart Taylor (@stuie17) February 26, 2020
In 2018, Greta Thunberg left school to devote her time to drawing attention to effects of climate change. She staged lone protests on the streets of Sweden, including in front of the Swedish Parliament. Several years later her campaign gained public attention with millions of people across the world taking part in climate strikes. The 17-year-old has attended and spoken at major summits and conferences, including one at the United Nations, where she berated world leaders for the lack of action. Time magazine named her 2019 Person of the Year and Thunberg was recently nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.