UK-based activists from the climate campaign group explain why they are prepared to be arrested for the cause

Roger Hallam, 52, organic farmer from Wales and XR co-founder

Hallam was arrested in 2017 for criminal damage when he and another person spray-painted Divest from oil and gas, Now and Out of time on walls at Kings College London, using water-soluble chalk-based paint.

Both were cleared of all charges by a jury in 2019 after they defended their actions as being a proportionate response to the climate crisis.

Graffiti

People joining Extinction Rebellion (XR) are trained in how to conduct themselves peacefully when participating in direct action.

According to Hallam, direct action has several aims and objectives. One is to cause disruption and financial costs to the state to build pressure for political change. Another is for individuals to show their commitment that they are willing to sacrifice their liberty for the cause. Increased disruption and more people arrested creates a bigger impact.

The training explains the possible legal implications of getting arrested. Once people have been informed about this, it is up to them to decide if they are willing to get arrested or not. If they sign up, they become part of the growing list of arrestables.

Fi Radford, 71, retired academic librarian from Bristol

Fake

I got to London and joined the rebellion at lunchtime Thursday [during protests in April], and I was looking for my affinity group in Oxford Circus by the pink boat when I saw a guy I know from Bristol. I told him, I have just arrived and I am willing to be arrested.

A police officer behind me heard me say that and he tapped me on the shoulder and said, I think I can arrange that. Are you aware this is a section 14? Please leave the area. I am officially asking you to move away or I will have to arrest you.

I told him I was not going anywhere and he then read a caution and my rights. I sat down to make clear I was not moving. He was on his own so he had to go away to get more police and came back after a while with three colleagues who picked me up and carried me away. There was a lot of clapping and cheering as they carried me down the road to the van. We were four in the van and they took us to West End Central where there was a long queue of people waiting to get processed.

Fi

I was then searched and had my fingerprints and DNA taken, and was put in a cell. Everyone was very nice and polite and at 9pm I was given a toothbrush and paste and was fed twice, vegetarian food. The cell was very bright so I had to pull the blanket over my face to get some sleep and I read a detective novel given to me by the custody officer. I was let out at 2pm.

I feel my time is running out and the worlds time is running out and what energy I have got left I will spend on fighting climate change, not just for my children and grandchildren but also for the non-human world.

I am very happy to be able to use my privilege as a white elderly woman this way and I will be back in London in October.

Radford was charged under section 14 and was given a conditional discharge with a 70 fine.

Jamie Osborn, 24, charity press officer from Norwich

Protesters

In February, Osborn, who is also a city councillor and press officer for a Green MEP, and eight other XR activists walked into the county council chamber in Norwich. Osborn says he felt peaceful direct action was the only way to stop a proposed new road, the Norwich Western Link. For four hours, the activists sang and stood arm in arm wearing T-shirts that read: NCC guilty of ecocide care not cars.

Jamie

The councillors first asked them to leave, then switched the lights off and left, pretending the meeting was over, and later played Rule Britannia through loudspeakers to drown out the singing.

Osborn was arrested and charged. He accepted a caution and was released without further action.His conviction was later quashed.

Ruth Jarman, 56, full-time campaigner

Activists

I just want to take action that is more commensurate with the seriousness of the situation we are in, says Jarman, who has been arrested seven times. I want to know I have done everything I can when you are in a police cell, you know there is nothing more you can do but pray. And you then have plenty of time to do that.

Ruth

Civil disobedience seems the only moral choice. When the laws and policies of the land are actively destroying what God has made and my childrens future, when ordinary campaigning has failed, when all we need to do to allow climate breakdown is for everyone to carry on their lawful daily business, civil disobedience seems the only moral choice.

The theory shows you need arrests, you need people prepared to go to prison someone has to be those people. Why shouldnt I be one of them?

The Rev Sue Parfitt, 77, from Bristol

Arrests

Parfitt was arrested in April at Oxford Circus. I was very well treated during my arrest, she says. Being part of XR I realised being elderly is a great privilege and we have to offer ourselves as arrestables and be on the frontline. We get our pensions and have no jobs or careers to worry about.

Rev

The moment when you become most vulnerable, putting yourself in the hands of the state, is when you have most power.

Parfitt is not aware of any court summons and is planning to take part in this weeks action in London.

Samantha Lindo, 33, singer and mental health teacher for young people

Arrests

It was on the last day of the occupation of Waterloo Bridge during the international rebellion in April we listened to a Brazilian indigenous woman speaking about how she and her fellow activists in the Amazon faced violence and death in their struggles. I felt the need to stand with her in solidarity and was inspired by all the women around me on the bridge, so later as the police were clearing the road I decided to join in and stand my ground, refusing to move on.

Samantha

I was with my husband and we had decided only one of us should be arrested, so he was with me but on the pavement, and he waved goodbye. I was arrested at 8.30pm and held in custody for 21 hours. I tried not to make too much fuss, apologised to the police for taking up their time and made a non-comment interview. I still do believe I did the right thing in the light of what we are facing, and when I was in court I read out a prepared statement on that which got me a round of applause.

Lindo was was fined 100 and given a conditional discharge.

Phil Kingston, 83, retired probation officer and lecturer in social work at Bristol University

Fake

Kingston was arrested for his part in a protest disrupting the DLR at Canary Wharf in April.

Phil

Its really very hard for many elders to break the law, because of the culture we have been brought up in unlike younger people now, he says. The things I do, I do for my grandchildren and other lifeforms and future generations. Whatever the future situation, I hope we will learn to live a very different way of life to what we have learned under capitalism.

Kingston is facing a crown court trial in early 2020.

Tony Goodchild, 74, retired veterinary epidemiologist

XR

I was standing alone on the pavement near Parliament Square outside the supreme court building, says Goodchild. I wanted to test the law. I was approached by two police officers. The male officer suggested I go to Marble Arch, where I could have fun, or words to that effect. I felt this advice to be insulting, because I was protesting against something seriously dangerous: the UK governments lack of action against climate change.

I replied: Three hundred of my colleagues have been arrested already why should I be any different?

One of the officers

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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