Lewis Schaffer

Lewis Schaffer

Lewis Schaffer, eco warrior

Comedian chains himself to a tree

Comedian Lewis Schaffer has chained himself to a council digger in an attempt to save trees in a cemetery near his South London home.

Police were called to deal with his protest yesterday – but he had unchained himself from the machinery by the time they arrived.

The New York-born comic has returned to Camberwell Old Cemetery today to resume his direct action, delaying the chainsaw gang for two hours. Police are currently negotiating with the activists.

Southwark Council has begun clearing 10 acres of inner city woodland from the cite, felling hundreds of trees and excavating old graves to make way for more than 4,500 new burial plots.

Schaffer said he had to take action yesterday when he saw trees being cut down. He said: 'I didn't really plan it. I saw what they were doing and decided to try to make them stop. I can't really believe what happened. But I'll do it again if necessary.'

The comedian, who has been a prominent member of the Save Southwark Woods campaign, said: 'People think of me as selfish, shallow and annoying and all those things are true. But this is something I really care about.

'I walked through those wooded cemeteries with my children when they were young and it devastates me to think they will be destroyed because of this vandalism by Southwark Council.

'I believe what the council is doing is illegal and I'm determined to try to stop them.'

Protesters says the council does not have permission from the Church of England to do the work on the land, although Southwark insists its actions are legal. Chortle has approached the council for comment but not yet received a response.

Schaffer added: 'My fellow campaigners and I have made protests at council meetings, written letters and we have a petition containing 10,000 names signed by people including Zac Goldsmith, [environmental writer] Tony Juniper and Bianca Jagger. Now the council has decided to ignore our peaceful legal protests and has begun attempting to fell beautiful mature trees without permission from the church authorities.'

Blanche Cameron, of Save Southwark Woods said campaigners will continue to try to prevent council workers from felling more trees, and said she and others plan to follow Schaffer in chaining themselves to council vehicles.

Here is a local news report about the campaign:

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Published: 2 Feb 2016

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