A group of roughly 20 protesters from the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion were arrested Thursday after they jumped from a raft off the shore of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and tried to swim to the beach. This comes one day after 14 of their members were arrested Wednesday for blockading the Palais in Cannes.
Security stopped allowing festivalgoers into “Facebook Beach,” the section of Cannes beachfront occupied by Facebook’s delegation, as soon as the activists began to descend and police swiftly came to arrest the protesters as they reached shore. The section of the beach where they landed is directly next to where the social media giant hosts its parties and panels.
Protesters yelled “extinction” and “we won’t have a future” as they were carried away by French police.
Festival organizers had originally extended an invitation to the group to participate in the Lions in an official capacity, but where ultimately denied by the French authorities.
French authorities arrested the first batch of 14 Extinction Rebellion activists on Wednesday, after the group staged a demonstration at the Palais.
Protesters dropped a banner with the words “Tell the Truth” from the Church of Our Lady of Esperance which overlooks the Palais before blocking the main entrance to the event a few hours later. They linked arms and sat on the steps chanting “We are in the 6th mass extinction,” and “If we don’t act now, the biodiversity on which we depend will collapse.”
According to a spokeswoman for the group who talked to Ad Age, the protesters are “mostly French” although they include some of the group who cycled down from London earlier in the week. Police arrested 12 people for blockading the Palais and arrested two for handing out flyers. They were fined and released within half an hour.
Extinction Rebellion are demonstrating against “the business as usual mentality and the idea that talking about climate change can be profitable and not addressing the issue, and the fact that they guide consumer choices, face on,” she said, adding: “It isn’t a case of blaming individuals for not doing enough, but encouraging the industry to be on the right side of history. “The group almost had a chance to appear at the Festival officially; members met with the CEO of Cannes Lions, Phil Thomas, before the Festival started. Thomas told Ad Age he received a phone call from the group last week, having earlier reached out to them, and met with four of them, including William Skeaping, a former employee of McCann London, who is playing a key role in the Cannes activity. “We had a glass of rosé together, and I liked them very much,” he says.
According to Thomas, he offered them a platform at the Festival on the main stage, and to introduce them to “anyone they wanted in the industry” and they had agreed to that. However, he said, the “fly in the ointment” with that plan was that Cannes Lions had to inform the French authorities who have a clear rule about the organizations that appear in the Palais. They didn’t grant permission, and so he had to withdraw the offer.
The spokeswoman for the group said they were disappointed Cannes Lions had then “pulled back” on support for them, but Thomas said there was nothing he could do. “We agree with their message and what they are saying, and I would encourage them to engage in a dialogue with the ad industry. I would still be up for talking with them in future, but in this case, it’s up to the Cannes authorities and the Mayor of Cannes.”
Skeaping meanwhile tweeted: “This has been a very strange week so far… I came hoping we could get the advertising industry to help tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency but now have a sinking feeling that we’re totally fucked. Currently researching property prices in Northern Sweden.”
Cannes Lions issued a short official statement about the arrests: “We are aware of the small protest which occurred today here in Cannes. Festival Security and local authorities have managed the situation and events are continuing to run as normal.”