Sunday, January 16, 2022

Extinction Rebellion activists acquitted by jury over rush hour train protests

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Three Extinction Rebellion activists have been acquitted of a 2019 stunt in which they disrupted a train in central London for 77 minutes.

Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, Father Martin Newell, 54, and former university lecturer Philip Kingston, 85, were unanimously acquitted of obstructing the railway by a jury of Inner London Crown Court after their protest at Shadwell railway station on October 17, 2019.

Mr Kingston superglued his hand to a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train while Rev Parfitt and Father Newell climbed onto the roof and said prayers for the planet just before 7am.

The trio said they were strongly motivated by their Christian faith, while Mr Kingston said the future of his four grandchildren also prompted him to attend the protest.

In an attempt to alert the public and government to the dangers of climate change and the financial institutions whose actions are damaging the planet, they targeted a train one stop from the bank in the City of London’s financial district.

About 15 trains were delayed or canceled, but none got stuck in tunnels.

This was partly because, according to the activists, they had planned the demonstration to ensure there was no threat to public safety, taking measures including targeting an above-ground station and 10 other Extinction Rebellion activists on the platform to ensure that violence did not break out.

The ruling comes after four people were cleared of criminal damages for toppling the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and throwing it in the harbour.

The bronze memorial to the 17th-century figure was torn down during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 7, 2020, and those responsible were acquitted on January 5 after an 11-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.

And in April last year, six Extinction Rebellion protesters were acquitted of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters, despite the judge telling the jury they had no legal defense.

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