Local Rebel’s Experience of Arrest

Last week I received a six month conditional discharge following my arrest in Parliament Square on 1st September last year. The reasons that I chose to risk arrest are set out in the statement I sent to the court (below). After sitting in the road peacefully for several hours, I was carried off to Brixton Police Station, and released at around 1.30 am the following morning.

I was able to make an informed choices to the risks of my actions due to the support of many lovely people of XR, and my privileged position. I live in a relatively free and open society, I have no dependents, or disabilities; I am a woman but I am not a person of colour or a member of any other disadvantaged group; I am financially able to cover the costs of my action (£85 plus ‘victim surcharge £22).

The Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill in its current form will make it much harder for people to stand up for their beliefs and exercise their freedom to protest, particularly those whose voices are already suppressed. It would be morally indefensible for me to stop speaking up for what I believe to be right, and of vital, urgent importance. It is morally indefensible for our elected representatives to try to stop me.

We will be looking at the implications of the Bill at our next Malvern Group meeting on Thursday 1st April 7-9pm. We will also be looking at the responses gathered during our Visioning Workshop in January, to assess how best to meet everyone’s ambitions and needs. All voices are welcome and we hope to see you there.

Statement of Mitigating circumstances

I am 50. All my life I have been aware of the impending climate and ecological emergency, and the crisis of social inequality that means the burden of the damage we do falls upon the poor and vulnerable.

I am appalled by our collective moral failings. I am frightened of the harm that is happening right now and how this will be worse in the future.

I have devoted my working life to tackling inequality and homelessness. I have donated my earnings, written letters, signed petitions, attended meetings. In recent years I have spent the majority of my annual leave and many weekends on practical volunteering to restore ecosystems in my local area and around the UK. I have planted trees on Scottish hillsides in snow and rain  and devoted many, many hours to my local wildlife trust.

I have tried individual and collective dialogue with my MP. She thinks the Government is doing enough. I don’t feel my vote counts. Our government has failed to react with the necessary urgency and compassion. Promises are made and not kept. Amongst many other sources, Parliament’s own Climate Committee tells us our actions are too little, too late.

On 1st September Caroline Lucas presented the CEE Bill to Parliament. It seemed to me that this was one last chance for our representatives to take the action needed. My MP would not support the Bill. It was absolutely imperative that I should put my own comfort and security aside and say ‘not in my name’ to any future destruction of our planet and of our moral standing. Lack of agency to do this in other ways led me to resolve to join Extinction Rebellion and pursue non-violent civil disobedience by sitting in the road outside Parliament to ask the Government to act. I am willing to take the consequences of my actions: I feel they were necessary for the protection of our Earth.