Socialist Worker

XR activists acquitted over printing plant protests

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2753

An XR protest of one in Clapham last weekend

An XR 'protest of one' in Clapham last weekend (Pic: Extinction Rebellion)


Three Extinction Rebellion protesters who blockaded routes at printing plants for some right wing newspapers last September have been acquitted.

Katie Ritchie-Moulin, Harrison Radcliffe, and Luca Vitale sat on top of a van outside Newsprinters plant in Knowsley on Merseyside. They were three of the 81 activists arrested at the Knowsley plant and another printer in Broxbourne in Hertfordshire on the same night.

Twenty more activists who were arrested in Knowsley are still awaiting trial for the part they played in the protests.

The trio were found not guilty of aggravated trespass at Liverpool magistrates’ court as there was not enough evidence that the activists were on public or private land.

The protests were able to delay the distribution of newspapers including The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. The estimated cost of this delay was £1.2 million.

Ritchie-Moulin said, after her acquittal, that the protests were an objection to how the media represents the climate crisis.

She also defended the blockades by saying, “I think a free press is absolutely essential to our society. But that isn’t what we have in Britain.

“The printed press is almost entirely controlled by four billionaires who basically are then given the right to peddle their opinions and views to the public without any accountability.”

Damage

This court success follows the acquittal of six XR activists last month of criminal damage charges.

The jury delivered its not guilty verdict for each defendant, despite Judge Perrins ruling that five of the six had no defence under the law.

The trial, for criminal damage to the Shell HQ building in London’s Waterloo in April 2019 could have led to a maximum five year prison sentence and/or a £10,000 fine.

Last Saturday XR halted traffic on roads across Britain, demonstrating over the lack of action by the government on climate change.

Hundreds of people staged “protests of one” road blocks. Individuals sat alone in busy roads wearing signs with messages about their fears for the future.

The protest began at 11am—two years exactly since parliament declared a climate emergency.

Morgan Trowland glued himself to London’s Tower Bridge, prompting City of London Police to close it to southbound traffic.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.