Socialist Worker

XR co-founder arrested for conspiracy as state ramps up repression

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2755

Gail Bradbrook

Gail Bradbrook (Pic: XR)


Police have arrested the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion (XR) for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal damage.

These are very serious charges that could see a sentence of up to ten years in prison. It's part of an increasing crackdown on direct action climate protesters.

Gail Bradbrook, who helped to set up XR in 2016, was arrested at 5.30am on Tuesday. She has been released but remains under investigation.

The allegation of conspiracy to cause criminal damage follows window-breaking at her local Barclays branch. The fraud charge relates to the Repair Harm debt strike. Activists used Barclays credit cards to pay money to those combating climate devastation.

XR said they were “unlikely to pay off the debt, and are asking Barclays to write it off” as reparations for the bank’s record in funding environmentally destructive projects.

Bradbrook’s arrest comes after Valerie Brown, London mayoral candidate for political party Burning Pink, was arrested for conspiracy to commit criminal damage last week.

Brown and another activist spray-painted The Guardian newspaper offices for failing to adequately report on the climate crisis.

Printing

And the trials of XR activists involved in blocking two newspaper printing plants, delaying distribution in September last year, also continued this week.

Five activists have already been found not guilty of aggravated trespass after blocking the Newsprinters newspaper plant in Knowsley, Merseyside.

Now those who blocked a printing plant with vans and bamboo structures in Herefordshire are facing trials.

The police arrested 51 people at the scene. Six of these activists are currently on trial at St Albans magistrates’ court, charged with obstructing a highway.

On Monday XR activist and defendant Liam Norton glued his hand to the table and posted videos to social media of the court which delayed the trial.

He was arrested but still attended court on Tuesday where the judge, Sally Fudge, refused him entry.

Climate activists celebrate court success as world leaders’ pledges fall short
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In reaction to this, the other defendants walked out of the courtroom.

Gully Bujack, one of those on trial said, “I take no pleasure in being arrested, being put on trial, or being trashed by the billionaire press, but I am not ashamed.

“Because I know that nothing will ever change unless ordinary people are prepared to make sacrifices.”

The arrests and ongoing trials of climate activists show that the state is ramping up repression—and they do this even before grabbing new powers through the proposed police bill.

XR has noted how the state is targeting climate activists, writing on its website, “the steep rise in state hostility against peaceful activists is more than mere embarrassment.

“There are reports of a wider anti-democratic campaign to concentrate influence and profit so the desires of a few wealthy donors are satisfied instead of the needs of the country, people, and planet.”

Everyone who wants to defend the right to protest has to stand with XR against the state.

Tweet solidarity to @XRebellionUK

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