Fossil Free London campaigners say the charges are part of a wider government crackdown on the right to protest.
Greta Thunberg is appearing in court in London today having been charged with a public order offence over an environmental protest last month.
The Swedish climate activist and 12 others entered the city’s Westminster Magistrates Court for a plea hearing this morning (15 November) after being arrested for demonstrating outside an oil industry conference.
The Energy Intelligence Forum, formerly the Oil and Money conference, is an annual meeting of fossil fuel company executives, financiers and politicians that took place at the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel from 17 to 19 October this year.
Activists from Fossil Free London blocked the entrance as part of a wider Oily Money Out campaign, opposing the political influence and lobbying of oil and gas giants and banks.
“Young people, like Greta and these other activists, are being forced into this sort of action because they deem it necessary to protect themselves from the accelerating climate crisis,” says a spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion (XR) which also took part in the action.
“Like people all over the world, they are rising in a fury that is rooted in love. We will all continue to resist.”
What has Greta been charged with in London?
Greta was charged on 18 October with failing to comply with a condition imposed under Section 14 of the Public Order Act during the demonstration.
This legislation was recently amended by the UK’s controversial Policing Bill, expanding police powers to set legally binding conditions on marches and assemblies.
The 20-year-old activist and others have this morning pleaded ‘not guilty’ to breaching conditions imposed by the act. If found guilty she could face a maximum fine of £2,500 (around €2,870).
Fossil Free London and other campaigners see the charges are part of a wider government crackdown on the right to protest.
“Everywhere temperatures are rising, and so too is repression,” says organiser Joanna Warrington.
“The UK Government is trying to shut down free speech and free assembly rather than act on climate, while on the frontlines of the crisis climate justice campaigners are being repressed, as we see in the violent response to protests against Total’s East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline in Uganda. We stand in solidarity with them.”
This isn’t Greta’s first time in court. Before her arrest in Britain, she was detained by police or removed from protests in Sweden, Norway and Germany this year.
Last month she was fined around €400 by a Swedish court for disobeying a police order at an oil terminal protest in Malmo. That came hot on the heels of a previous €200 fine in July for a similar offence in Sweden.
Has Greta been found guilty?
At Westminster Magistrates Court, the prosecutor explained that the protest went on for five hours before police asked protesters to move to a designated protest area that did not block the hotel’s entrance. They were arrested for refusing.
In a statement at the time, the Met Police said it had imposed conditions on the activists under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, to “prevent serious disruption to the community, hotel and guests”, and had asked them to move from the road and onto the pavement.
A trial for Greta and other protesters has now been scheduled for 1 February in the City of London Magistrates Court.
A further 13 defendants will appear at later court dates for plea hearings related to the Oily Money Out action, according to Fossil Free London.
Source: Euro News