A grandfather from West Yorkshire who took part in environmental protests which caused chaos on the country’s busiest motorway has defended the action as “absolutely necessary”.
Just Stop Oil supporters brought the M25 to a standstill over a number of days earlier this month by climbing onto overhead gantries during rush hour, forcing the police to close large sections of the motorway.
Anthony Whitehouse, 71, from Dewsbury, was among 63 people arrested. He later pleaded guilty to a charge of public nuisance and was due to be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Whitehouse said: “We did it for the very necessary reason the government are not acting according to what is needed to prevent the climate emergency that is happening all around us.
“So unless we do take strong action to make people aware of what is coming down the tracks, then my children and my grandchild are going to suffer immensely.”
Just Stop Oil have restarted protesting in London today with protests at Shepherd’s Bush in West London and Aldwych / The Strand in central London this morning. Just Stop Oil: “Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to ensure that the government commits to ending all new licenses and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.”
MPs are preparing to vote next week on some of the most controversial anti-protest measures left in the government’s notorious policing bill.
Amnesty UK has urged MPs to “follow the lead of their colleagues in the Lords in taking a stand against the power-grab” when the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill returns to the Commons on Monday.
Last month, the House of Lords rejected a string of proposals that would have given police in England and Wales increased powers, including the power to stop and search anyone at a protest “without suspicion”.
Karla McLaren, Amnesty UK’s government and political relations manager, told openDemocracy: “The right to protest is a cherished part of the fabric of our society and it’s profoundly disturbing that the government is trying to gag people like this.
Just Stop Oil protests and arrests are continuing at the UK Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, London. There were 54 arrests on Tuesday, 25 today. Just Stop Oil are calling on the UK government to end new oil and gas.
Twenty-five supporters of Just Stop Oil have been arrested after blocking traffic in central London, on the sixth consecutive day of protest by the group.
At about midday on Thursday, two groups of protesters with the climate activist campaign walked into the road and stopped traffic at the roundabout by Trafalgar Square.
Supporters of Just Stop Oil have vowed to block the streets of Westminster every single day until the government agrees a halt to all new oil and gas projects. The latest arrests bring the number of arrests related to their protests to more than 100 since Sunday.
More than 50 protesters who are demanding urgent action to address the climate crisis were sent to jail on one day this week after refusing to comply with court proceedings.#
Many of the protesters made it clear they would continue to take action at the Kingsbury terminal if they were released on bail, despite an injunction prohibiting protests at the site still being in force.
In response, 30 protesters in Birmingham and 21 in London were remanded in prison and are due to appear before the courts again next week, when activist group Just Stop Oil said they could face lengthy spells in prison.
Jun Pang – Policy and Campaigns Officer on 02 Dec 2021 at Liberty
Not content with the already draconian powers in the [Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts] Bill to shut down protests and criminalise people trying to make their voices heard, the Government has recently added amendments to it.
1. LOCKING ON
Locking on only needs to be “capable” of causing serious disruption to “two or more people”. On top of that, no one knows what “serious disruption” means because it’s not defined in the Bill. Instead, the Home Secretary will get to define and re-define it at will.
2. WILFUL OBSTRUCTION OF THE HIGHWAY
The current punishment for someone who wilfully obstructs the highway is a fine. Amendments to the Policing Bill will change it to up to 51 weeks in prison, a fine, or both.
Such heavy punishments will stop people taking to the streets to stand up to power – and will add to existing pressures on courts, prisons, and the probation service.
3. OBSTRUCTION OF MAJOR TRANSPORT WORKS
This is another new offence that a person commits if they obstruct someone from taking any steps connected to the construction or maintenance of any major transport works, or they in any way interfere with “any apparatus” relating to that construction or maintenance.
4. STOP AND SEARCH
The Government’s amendments will also expand stop and search. Police will be able to stop and search a person or vehicle for items intended for use in connection with the offences in the Bill: obstructing the highway, public nuisance, locking on, and obstructing major transport works.
Police will also be able to put orders in place allowing for ‘suspicion-less’ stop and search for these items in a specific location for up to 24 hours (and up to 48 hours, if authorised).
5. SERIOUS DISRUPTION PREVENTION ORDERS – PROTEST BANNING ORDERS
People given a protest banning order will be subject to a set of conditions, including not associating with certain people, going to certain places, carrying certain items, or using the internet in a certain way.
They can last for up to two years, but there is no limit to the number of times a protest banning order can be renewed by the court.
Protest is a fundamental right, but protest banning orders effectively ban people from organising and making their voices heard, striking at the heart of what makes protest meaningful and effective: political community.
These new offences will either deter people from protesting, or drag them into the criminal justice system for doing so. They will further entrench discrimination, with devastating consequences for marginalised communities.
But they are’t law yet, and this Government buckles under public pressure and u-turns time and again.
We’ve also created this quick and easy tool to email your MP and tell them to stop this dangerous and discriminatory Bill from becoming law.
There were huge protests in Glasgow and around the world on Saturday about failure to adequately address the climate crisis.
The Young Communist League (YCL) of Britain was prevented from participating in the Glasgow protest by police. It appears that they were marching behind a banner reading ‘Socialism or Extinction‘. YCL published the following statement on 5 November 2021, the day previous to the protest and an article appeared in the Morning Star on the day of the protest.
COP26 has been billed as one of the last chances to save the planet and humanity as we know it. For nearly thirty years these meetings have brought together world leaders to discuss and debate the best way forward, yet little has changed in that time. In fact, since the first COP meeting held in Berlin in 1995, global CO2 emissions have increased by 56%. The imperialist world’s governments are paying this crisis nothing but lip service, rolling over to let the monopolies and big business that they represent in fossil fuels, agribusiness, manufacturing and finance run rampant across the globe. Politicians are still desperate to cling to the economic system that created this crisis.
This week we have seen the representatives of right wing governments gather to express warm words and pledges in order to protect the capitalist system, with keynote speeches from some of the biggest polluters on the planet including BP and Amazon. These huge monopolies do not represent us and we cannot allow them to pressure governments into enabling and promoting the same privatised market solutions to climate change that have already failed for decades.
Right wing governments and these monopolies cynically present the challenge facing humanity as one of “changing consumer choices and habits”. This completely ignores and obscures the fact that, like all things in our society and its development, production and consumption are rigidly dictated by the monopolies and banks that control the global economy and the governments which serve their interests – all for short-term financial profit.
The continuing role of imperialism cannot be ignored. We are so often told that we are all in this together. But we are not! We are not equally responsible for this mess, and we do not equally share the risks of devastation. Yet we are all told that we all must make adjustments. This week, Scotland’s skies have been filled with the private jets of the elite. We have even seen politicians travelling in jets from Prestwick to Glasgow. A journey served well by a direct train link that takes less than 45 minutes.
More than ever, the inequality capitalism has created on this earth has been made starkly clear. While the richest nations make their own plans for net-zero, many developing nations are being left in the lurch, not offered the breathing space required for their own development. All the while, Western imperialist countries outsource their production abroad whilst attempting to shift the blame towards China and other countries with mass exports.
The media’s relentless anti-China sentiment has continued and increased this week with renewed attention on Chinese emissions, despite the fact that China is by far the largest investor, producer and consumer of renewable energy. Its CO2 emissions per capita barely place it in the top 50 polluting countries globally. Of course, it must do more and the Chinese Government have recently published its plans for net-zero. However, the ramping up of hostility, pointing to a New Cold War cannot be allowed to continue. Nor can we allow smaller and developing nations to be left behind and forced to remain underdeveloped in the interests of the already industrialised western countries.
We cannot stand idly by while politicians seek to divide us, demanding individual responses to what is the crucial systemic problem of this age. We say no more! We do not have time to wait, and we cannot allow our leaders to kick the can down the road to 2030 or even 2050.
Capitalism, a system which is only capable of serving the interest of the banks and monopolies and the suicidal drive for ever increasing short term profit at any cost, has proven itself unwilling and unable to handle the impending catastrophe which it has created. It will never be in the interest of big business or the capitalist governments which it controls to discipline the major carbon emitters or implement the radical change needed to save the planet and humanity. Only a system with absolute democratic control over industry, a Socialist system, is capable of tackling climate change head on. So we say:
The choice is clear – Socialism or extinction
Young Communist League
5 November 2021
YCL’s statement published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Well done Insulate Britain. I have been considering organising an action locally in solidarity, risking imprisonment as you do. I think that I would do some simple criminal damage to increase my effectiveness rather than sit about waiting to be arrested – it’s surprising what you can achieve with some simple hand tools.
People are going to be increasingly willing to take action and risk imprisonment as the climate crisis is not properly addressed. It takes very few to insist and achieve no more business as usual.
INSULATE BRITAIN Be Impossible, Demand the Realistic Charlie Waterhouse
Stopping traffic is nothing. Roadworks stop traffic every day, as do accidents. Floods are now stopping traffic regularly. The response from the Government and right-wing media shows us that we are doing the right thing. Prince Charles’ intervention, saying that he understands people’s frustrations as well as the problems tells us we are doing the right thing.
And now is the time to do the right thing; to get off the fence; to really face up to what is happening.
The Government has a choice: it can actually do something about the crises we face or it can stick its head in the sand, criminalising those who are clamouring for change along the way.
And you have a choice too: keep your fingers tightly crossed, say your prayers, and hope against hope that someone else will come and save you. Or you can do your bit and be the ancestor your future family desperately needs.
“The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary,” observes the author Ursula K Le Guin.
It will take fewer of us than we think to turn ‘annoying’ into ‘revolutionary’; imagination into paradigm shift. But tomorrow is too late. Be Impossible, Demand the Realistic.