Greta Thunberg acquitted of London protest charges

 February 3, 2024

Climate activist Greta Thunberg and four co-defendants were acquitted on Friday of a charge related to a protest blocking the entrance to a major oil and gas industry conference in London last year.

Judge John Law cleared them of breaching the Public Order Act, citing "significant deficiencies in the evidence" presented by the prosecutor.

The decision

The judge mentioned that police could have applied less restrictive measures and didn't properly define where protesters should move, making their order to disperse "so unclear that it was unlawful."

Defense lawyer Raj Chada's request for the government to pay legal fees and Thunberg's travel costs was granted by the judge.

Thunberg, 21, faced potential fines of up to $3,190 if convicted in Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Law stated that the conditions imposed on the protest were "unclear, uncertain, and unlawful."

The protest

Chada, speaking outside the court, urged the government to cease prosecuting peaceful protesters and focus on addressing the climate crisis.

The October 17 protest was part of ongoing demonstrations in the UK against fossil fuel producers. Thunberg and other activists accuse fossil fuel companies of hindering the global energy transition to renewables for profit.

The judge emphasized that the demonstration attended by Thunberg was "peaceful, civilized, and nonviolent."

The bigger picture

More than two dozen protesters, including Thunberg, were arrested for preventing access to a hotel during the Energy Intelligence Forum.

Law noted the absence of witness statements from hotel occupants or those trying to enter, highlighting a lack of evidence of any vehicles being impeded or interference with emergency services.

Thunberg and her co-defendants have been vocal about their opposition to fossil fuel activities, including the UK government's approval of drilling for oil in the North Sea.

Thunberg left the court without speaking to journalists, emphasizing the need to remember the true enemy and questioning the purpose of laws. Metropolitan Police Superintendent Matthew Cox described the efforts to work with protesters before issuing an order to move to an adjacent street, citing safety concerns for hotel occupants.

Thunberg, outside the hotel entrance, received a final warning before her arrest, stating her intention to stay. Thunberg gained global prominence through her weekly protests outside the Swedish Parliament, starting in 2018, advocating for stronger efforts to combat climate change. She has also faced fines in Sweden for similar protest-related offenses.

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