Jury clears Extinction Rebellion activists who targeted commuters | Extinction Rebellion

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Six climate crisis activists whose protest disrupted transport links to London’s financial district have been acquitted by a jury.

The Extinction Rebellion protest group has targeted the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which runs commuters around the city, Canary Wharf and other parts of east and south-east London, claiming that they wanted to draw attention to the financial sector’s contribution to the climate emergency. .

Five of them climbed to the top of the train with banners that read “Business As Usual = Death” and “Don’t Jail the Canaries”; a reference to other protesters who were being prosecuted at the time. The sixth, Dr Diana Warner, stuck to a train window.

They were accused of obstructing trains or cars on the tracks and, during their trial in London’s Home Court, acknowledged their role in planning and carrying out the protest on April 25, 2019 They argued that their action was a legal protest against the government’s inaction on the climate crisis.

Warner, Ruth Jarman, Ian Bray, Richard Barnard, Nick Cooper and Phil Kingston were found not guilty in a unanimous jury verdict on Friday.

“The defendants’ motives matched the concerns of 12 citizens representative of the general public,” said their attorney Mike Schwartz of Hodge Jones & Allen. “The jury all agreed that the climate crisis requires radical action. This reinforces the importance of both civil disobedience and juries in a healthy democracy.

Ian Bray, one of the defendants, said: “We are grateful for the love, compassion and moral clarity of the jury which enabled them to reach a unanimous verdict within an hour.”

His fellow protester, Richard Barnard, added: “Obviously it’s great to win. But that cannot be the end until we can change the system so that all species, people and the planet are protected before profit. So we call on everyone to come out and take action. “

Speaking after the acquittal, Ruth Jarman said: “I just want to thank the jury and bless them. I can’t believe they made the right decision so quickly.

Nick Cooper added: “I am moved, but not too surprised that they made such a quick decision.”

The protesters claimed that the jury’s verdict was an application of principles established in June by the Supreme Court, which ruled that exercising the right to protest could constitute a “lawful excuse” to obstruct the highway, even if the protest is considered disruptive.

They had been asked to review the appeals of four people convicted by the High Court, after being cleared by a district judge of a lower court. In their contributions to the majority judgment, Lord Hamblen and Lord Stephens said: “There should be a certain degree of tolerance for disturbances of ordinary life, including disturbances to traffic, caused by the exercise of right to freedom of expression or freedom of assembly.

“Political views, unlike ‘insipid gossip’, are particularly worthy of protection… The District Judge took into account that the appellants were not a group of people who randomly chose to attend. this event in the hope of causing trouble. We consider that the peaceful intentions of the appellants were appropriate elements to take into account in a proportionality assessment.

Testifying in their subsequent trial, the DLR protesters stressed their attention to minimizing risks to the safety of the public and to themselves, while attracting media attention, when they planned their action. And they expressed hope that their case might influence futures.

Government ministers have recently sought to quell forms of protest that they see as a nuisance in response to the actions of Extinction Rebellion and others. At the same time, they have defended freedom of expression, especially in areas where ministers believe the more conservative voices are not being heard.

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