Greta Thunberg and four others acquitted of climate protest charges in London
A judge on Friday acquitted climate activist Greta Thunberg of refusing to follow a police order to leave a protest that blocked the entrance to a major oil and gas industry conference in London last year.
Applause broke out when Judge John Law asked Thunberg and the four other defendants to stand and told them that they had been acquitted of the criminal charge of violating the public order law on the grounds that there were “significant deficiencies in the evidence” against them. Thunberg and others.
Police could have taken less restrictive measures, did not properly determine where protesters should move, and the dispersal order issued was “so unclear that it was illegal” to the point that those who did not comply committed no crime, Lu said.
The judge said he would grant defense lawyer Raj Chadha’s request that the government pay his legal fees and Thunberg’s travel costs after those bills are submitted.
The Swedish environmentalist, who has inspired a global youth movement demanding stronger efforts to combat climate change, has been charged at Westminster Magistrates’ Court with violating a law that allows police to impose restrictions on public gatherings. She faced a fine of up to £2,500 ($4,250 CAD) if found guilty.
The “permanent cycle” of protesters: the police
Thunberg, 21, was among more than two dozen protesters arrested on October 17 after being denied access to a hotel during the Energy Intelligence Forum, which was attended by some of the industry’s top executives.
Thunberg and other climate protesters have accused fossil fuel companies of deliberately slowing the global energy transition to renewables in order to make more profits. They also oppose the UK government’s recent approval of oil exploration in the North Sea, off the coast of Scotland.
“We must remember who the real enemy is,” Thunberg said Thursday outside court after the first day of the trial. “What are we standing for? Who are our laws meant to protect?”
D.C. Police Superintendent Matthew Cox said he worked with the protesters for about five hours before ordering the demonstrators to move to a nearby street.
“It appears to be a very deliberate attempt…to prevent most of the delegates and guests from accessing the hotel,” Cox testified. “People were really blocked from accessing the hotel.”
Judge says: ‘There is no evidence’ of any danger
Cox said that the demonstrators lit colorful torches and drummers made a deafening noise outside the hotel, while some demonstrators sat on the ground and others descended from the roof of the hotel. As officers began arresting people, other protesters quickly took their places, creating a “perpetual cycle” that found police running out of officers to make arrests.
Law said the protest was “peaceful, civilized and non-violent.”
“It is absolutely astonishing to me that there were no witness statements taken from anyone in the hotel, about 1,000 people, or from anyone trying to get in,” the judge said while reading the ruling, which made Thunberg and the other defendants laugh. times. He added: “There was no evidence of any vehicles being obstructed, no evidence of any interference with emergency services, or any threat to life.”
Prosecutor Luke Staton said Thunberg was outside the front entrance of the hotel when she received a final warning that she would be arrested if she did not comply. She intended to stay where she was.
Thunberg rose to prominence after organizing weekly protests outside the Swedish Parliament beginning in 2018.
Last summer, a Swedish court fined her for disobeying police and blocking traffic during an environmental protest at an oil facility. She had already been fined for the same offense previously in Sweden.