Woman also set off rape alarm and accused council contractors of ‘raping the trees’
London: A tree protester in Sheffield has been arrested for blowing a plastic trumpet and setting off a rape alarm after accusing council contractors of “raping the trees”.
The 57-year-old woman was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of causing intentional harm or distress following a complaint from a member of the public, and she received a court summons, South Yorkshire police said.
A video posted online shows the woman telling a police officer she brought a rape alarm “because they are raping the trees”.
Scarcely audible among the sound of chainsaws, the woman can be heard asking a police officer which law she is breaking by playing her red plastic trumpet.
As the officer walks away, the woman can be seen apparently playing a quick toot on the instrument, before she is taken away by officers to cries of “shame” from onlookers.
She can then be seen arguing with officers about why it is a criminal act to “play my musical instrument”, before the high-pitched sound of a rape alarm cries out. Officers then confiscate her trumpet and put her in the back of a police van.
The dispute over the felling of trees has become so toxic that this weekend the Sunday Times cited it as the reason Sheffield no longer made its list of the best places to live.
The woman with the rape alarm was one of a number of protesters accused of breaking the law while trying to protect trees on Wednesday.
A 49-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and accepted a fixed penalty notice, police said.
A 65-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of obstructing work under section 303 of the Highways Act 1980. A number of other people at the site were also reported on summons under section 303, South Yorkshire police said.
A 61-year-old woman was taken to hospital after being injured in the protest. Police called the Yorkshire ambulance service and she was taken to casualty “as a precaution”, the force said.
It said in a statement on Wednesday: “Earlier today, due to the peaceful nature of the protests, police resources were withdrawn from the site. However, only a short time later a breach of the designated safety zone temporarily stopped work, and a number of people were observed gathering on the road.
“Due to the breach, and safety concerns associated with people standing on a live highway, a number of officers were sent back to the site until the tree work had completed.”
Thousands of street trees in the city are being felled and replaced with saplings as part of a PFI highways maintenance contract. Campaigners object to what they say is the unnecessary removal of healthy trees.