Socialist Worker

Climate protester told to travel 400 miles to court during lockdown

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2698

Police dealt harshly with the London climate protests last October

Police dealt harshly with the London climate protests last October (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The state is so desperate to criminalise climate activism, it is calling on Extinction Rebellion (XR) members to travel across Britain during the coronavirus pandemic.

Susie Hotham, a rebel in Glasgow, received a letter on Thursday of this week summoning her to appear in court in London on 17 April.

“This is unbelievable— they’re saying to come to court during a pandemic to defend myself, it’s totally unreal,” she told Socialist Worker.

If Susie were to attend, it would mean a journey of over 400 miles to a city that is the centre of the outbreak in Britain.

And it would mean breaking all the current government advice on travelling only if it is absolutely essential.

“I’m under lockdown, I can’t even leave the house—it’s so odd they sent me this letter just three days ago,” she said.

The allegation of obstructing a highway dates back to the October rebellion in London. She spent three to four hours glued to a van, as rebels from Scotland established an occupation on the Westminster streets.

She told Socialist Worker that the state is pressing ahead with her prosecution because, “after six months the charge becomes void”.

Pursuing

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Met police are doggedly pursuing rebels for their non- violent direct action.

“They want to clamp down on climate protest, they want to stop people from protesting, including at the UN Cop climate talks in Glasgow in November.”

The rebellions in April and October last year saw thousands of people take to the streets to demand urgent action from the government to deal with the climate emergency.

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A planned rebellion for May has been postponed. But XR noted, “As the pandemic passes, nothing will feel the same and we need to be ready. We are already in a state of planetary crisis, and we do not have to return to business as usual.”

The response of the government in dealing with Covid-19 shows that there is potential for massive public spending to react to crises.

“The response to the coronavirus shows that real change is possible, and governments do have power, control and money,” argues Susie.

“The argument is always ‘we can’t afford that’ and that it’s impossible to have massive system change.

“But this shows it can be huge and fast—if there’s a crisis, it can be responded to really quickly.”

“But they’re not doing anything about the climate emergency—not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to.”


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