Just Stop Oil’s Rugby disruptors found ‘Not Guilty’ by Crown Court jury

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Two Just Stop Oil supporters who disrupted the Gallagher Premiership Rugby final in May 2023 were acquitted today at Kingston Crown Court. The unanimous 12-member jury found Samuel Johnson and Dr. Patrick Hart not guilty of the charge of criminal damage exceeding £5,000.

On 27th May 2023, the two supporters stormed the pitch in a cloud of cornstarch-based orange powder paint at Twickenham, where the Saracens were facing off against the Sale Sharks. They were demanding an immediate halt to any new licences for oil, gas, and coal projects in the UK. 

Dr. Patrick Hart, a 38 year old GP from Bristol, said today:

“Normal people recognise that civil resistance is absolutely essential to break through the lies of the politicians, fossil fuel companies and banks who are destroying life on earth. I told the jury that I am taking the most effective action I can, on the best available evidence, to protect the health of my patients. To put it simply: I am doing my duty as a doctor.”

During the trial, the prosecution relied on the detailed, hours-long testimony of the groundskeeper. He explained that, unlike a similar action by Just Stop Oil supporters at the men’s Ashes Test at Lord’s, where the cornstarch was easily cleared with a leaf blower, the Twickenham pitch features a hybrid grass system that combines a natural grass sublayer with synthetic plastic grass. However, the testimony did not establish that ordinary people would have known the intricacies of Twickenham’s pitch maintenance, making it difficult for the prosecution to prove that the defendants had the criminal intent to cause the alleged damage.

One of those acquitted, Sam Johnson, a 41-year-old construction worker from Essex, commented on the outcome:

A year ago, Patrick and I ran onto Twickenham during the Premiership final, throwing orange powder in the air. Today, we have been found not guilty of criminal damage. I took part in this action because our politicians continue to issue licences, knowing full well it will result in the deaths of millions of people. Thousands have died due to extreme heat brought on by climate change while we were on trial. This is happening now!”

Continue ReadingJust Stop Oil’s Rugby disruptors found ‘Not Guilty’ by Crown Court jury

Coming soon …

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The plan is to present a live audio podcast entitled ‘Talking About a Revolution’ featuring renowned climate activist Roger Hallam and myself on 1st May 2024 at 7pm BST (GMT +1). We’re not proposing violent revolution, rather a serious huge economic, political and social transition away from Capitalism which is totally and incessantly destroying the planet.

Just Stop Oil protesting in London 6 December 2022.
Just Stop Oil protesting in London 6 December 2022.

Roger has been active in founding many climate activist groups e.g. Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil. Roger and myself are similar in many ways: We’re both about the same age, have Welsh histories, committed to being brutally honest and seem to have reached very similar conclusions i.e. the need for revolution, through different routes.

I’m also intending to host a live audio podcast a week earlier on 24 April at 7pm BST (GMT +1) featuring myself to test the tech since I’ve never done it before. There is a chance that it may not work of course which is part of why I’m doing it. It will likely be a monologue but I’m hoping to feature some special ‘guests’ in a not too serious programme. Not too serious because it’s probably a good response to laugh in the face of adversity.

Those of you who have attended universities will probably realise that they are are dumping grounds for insane but mostly harmless people who are basically fekking bonkers. I suggest that you should recognise that the same happens in contemporary politics: that politicans are totally fekking beserk who would not be tolerated in normal professions and have been successful in politics. Just consider our prime ministers FFS.

Roger Hallam’s blog.

Roger Hallam’s wikipedia entry.

Continue ReadingComing soon …

Don’t look there: how politicians divert our attention from climate protesters’ claims

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Just Stop Oil protesting in London 6 December 2022.
Just Stop Oil protesting in London 6 December 2022.

Daniel Garcia-Jaramillo, Sheffield Hallam University

The right to protest is a distinctive feature of democratic, liberal societies. Yet the way in which many leading British politicians are currently talking about Just Stop Oil might make you think otherwise. Far from engaging with the issues at stake in these protests, politicians appear to be encouraging the wider public to ignore them or even oppose them.

Having seen their initial protests largely ignored, Just Stop Oil members have been making more disruptive (but non-violent) protests lately. They’ve been present at high-profile sports events like Wimbledon and the World Snooker Championships.

Policing minister Chris Philp dismissed the temporary delays caused to such events as “completely unacceptable”“. He argued that “the vast majority of the public are appalled by this very, very small, very selfish minority” and called on those not protesting to intervene.

With the UK government announcing new licences for oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, it’s clear that collective action that allows people to demonstrate their disagreement in peaceful ways is needed. In apparent contradiction to warnings about the climate crisis, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to the green agenda is wavering.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, has cancelled a plan to fund the transition from fossil fuels to green industries from the first day of government, should he win power. His response to criticism on this change was to turn on protesters.

He said: “The likes of Just Stop Oil want us to simply turn off the taps in the North Sea, creating the same chaos for working people that they do on our roads. It’s contemptible.”

Keir Starmer sucking up to the rich and powerful at World Economic Forum, Davos.
Keir Starmer has deployed some divisive language about climate protestors of late.

Diverting the conversation

Referring to people defending the environment as a “minority” that acts against other citizens polarises society and marginalises protesters’ claims. It depicts people’s demands as somehow niche rather than amounting to a highly pressing threat to the majority.

One of the features of language is that when we talk, we only focus on one or, at most, a few aspects of a particular object or event. A lot will inevitably remain unsaid.

Still, when what remains unsaid is one of the most obvious elements of any given topic, what is missing becomes as informative as what was said. In this case, the focus on tactics instead of the substance of the protest betrays an unwillingness to engage with the climate crisis.

The government has put forward the home secretary Suella Braverman rather than the environment secretary to respond to the Just Stop Oil protests (itself a signal that they are seen as a public order issue more than anything else).

Braverman has referred to people protesting for environmental reasons as causing “havoc and misery”. Environment secretary Thérèse Coffey, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to have made any public statements regarding the matter.

To say that people are protesting and not mentioning the reason for the protest leaves the story incomplete. That’s something that rarely happens when UK politicians talk about protests in other countries.

Last year, Sunak referred to women protesting in Iran as displaying “the most humbling and breathtaking courage” in sending “a very clear message that the Iranian people aren’t satisfied with the path that the government has taken”. Here the focus of the conversation is placed on protesters’ claims.

But when talking about protests held in the UK, the debate looms over the disruption caused, as if the core message were secondary or even dispensable. It is only when the core message is ignored that politicians can refer to those acting in defence of human and nonhuman lives as “selfish”.

In the absence of meaningful political engagement, conversations about Just Stop Oil protests in the UK have strayed mainly into tactics and disruption at expense of their core message. However, politicians in democratic nations have a responsibility towards the electorate to engage properly with what citizens demand, not just with the way they make their claims heard.The Conversation

Daniel Garcia-Jaramillo, PhD researcher, Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Sheffield Hallam University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingDon’t look there: how politicians divert our attention from climate protesters’ claims