November 10, 2023
Police arrested 26 climate protestors for ‘serious disruption’ –- Thunberg among those charged
February 21, 2019. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a march for the environment and the climate organised by students in Brussels, Belgium.
Greater London’s police force has been cracking down on what they deem to be a “serious disruption” following climate protests in the capital.
The Metropolitan Police has responded to climate demonstrations in London in the past month with arrests and charges.
Protests included members of Fossil Free London, which aims to stop the fossil fuel industry from operating in the city. They were blocking the entrances of the InterContinental on Park Lane, which was host to the Energy Intelligence Forum (EIF), a three-day conference during which energy leaders “debate and shape sustainable solutions to the energy challenges of the 21st century.”
But protestors, among which stood 20 year-old Greta Thunberg, view this forum as a chance for ‘spineless politicians [to make] deals and compromises with lobbyists from destructive industries, the fossil fuel industry,’ as she pointed out to journalists and those gathered.
Some protesters, including Greta, were arrested for failing to comply with police orders of moving from the road to the pavement.
The Fossil Free Protest took place on the first day of the forum and saw activists form a protest line with banners and chanting “oily money out” and “cancel the conference”, as reported by The Guardian.
Greta was arrested among 26 other protesters during the October 17 protest against the EIF, referred to by protestors as the “oily money conference.”
The officers imposed conditions “to prevent disruption to the public,” reported the Metropolitan Police.
In a statement, the Met added: ‘The protestors were asked to move from the road onto the pavement, which would enable them to continue with their demonstration without breaching the conditions’.
But of those protesting, 26 were deemed to have failed to comply with the conditions. Among them, Greta, who was charged for breaching a condition imposed under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. Under the 1986 act, a public order offence can involve threatening or abusive behaviour, violence or intimidation by groups or individuals in public.
The Swedish activist has been bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on November 15.
Speaking to Harbingers’, award-winning filmmaker Kasha Slaver who was asked about her thoughts on Greta’s arrest, shared how she found the Swedish activists’ actions “commendable.”
The 25-year-old, who highlights the need for climate activism in her films, added: “If you’re living in a place that is democratic in the traditional sense, we have a duty to use our voices and put ourselves out there in solidarity with all of those who are consistently speaking up in places where it’s not safe to.
“So, I think if Greta is putting herself on the line for her peers, it’s commendable for sure.”
London has been a hotspot for calls for change in these last few weeks by climate activists. More recently, on November 6, two activists of another climate action group – Just Stop Oil – were arrested for criminal damage for vandalising glass protecting the Velázquez painting in the National Gallery.
They targeted the oil-painting – ‘The Toilet of Venus’ – as it was previously slashed as part of the suffragette movement in 1914. Just Stop Oil commented on the activists’ action to ABC News: “Politics is failing us. It failed women in 1914 and it is failing us now.”
The United Kingdom’s decision to delay transition away from fossil fuels has motivated an increase in demonstrations. On September 20, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that due to high consumer costs, he will be delaying the country’s ban on sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles from 2030 until 2035.
Thunberg highlighted in a statement before her arrest, they “have no choice but to disrupt” because “our world is being swept away by greenwashing and lies.”