Extinction Rebellion activists cleared of rush hour disruption in London | Environmental activism

Three activists who targeted London’s public transport network to raise alarm over the escalating climate crisis have been acquitted by a jury.

The three Extinction Rebellion activists disrupted rush hour services for over an hour in east London in 2019, with two climbing atop the train and a third sticking to one of the wagons.

In Inner London Crown Court on Friday, a jury found them not guilty of obstructing the railway at Shadwell station.

During the trial, the jury was presented with a set of facts – accepted by both the prosecution and the defense – about the scale and severity of the climate crisis.

Zoë Blackler of Extinction Rebellion said the verdict proves that when a jury hears “the truth…with the depth and seriousness they won’t get from the government or the media, they understand the urgency of to act”.

The three defendants – Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, Father Martin Newell, 54, and former college professor Philip Kingston, 85 – said they were strongly motivated by their Christian faith – Kingston adding that the future of his four grandchildren also prompted him to take part in the demonstration.

Blackler said, “The real criminals here are not three committed Christians risking their freedom to sound the alarm over a threat of existential proportions, but a government that is failing to do what is necessary to safeguard the future of human race.

The action caused delays for thousands of people with 15 trains affected. Activists said they planned the protest to ensure there was no risk to public safety by targeting an above-ground station and having 10 other Extinction Rebellion activists on the platform. -form to ensure that violence does not erupt.

The verdict is the last in which juries have acquitted protesters. Earlier this month, four people were cleared for toppling the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and dumping it in the harbour.

In December, six Extinction Rebellion activists, whose protest disrupted transport links to London’s financial district, were also acquitted by a jury. And in April last year, six more people were cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters despite the judge ordering jurors they had no defense at law.

Mike Schwarz, lawyer at Hodge Jones and Allen who represented the defendants, said: “There is growing evidence from the courts and especially from juries that the public is taking on the climate crisis and the increasingly urgent need to focus on it much more seriously than government and business. This verdict is part of this escalation pattern.

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