Back in October, two Just Stop Oil supporters climbed up the Queen Elizabeth M25 Dartford Bridge in a protest calling on the government to follow the advice of the International Energy Agency and United Nations General Secretary, to halt plans for NEW oil and gas fields, and instead to use up years of current reserves while undertaking an emergency and just transition, and lead the world in the urgent fight to avert climate catastrophe.
Both men were held on remand for months before being found guilty of ‘public nuisance’ last month at Southend Crown Court, where Judge Collery passed the longest sentences for peaceful climate action in UK history, giving Marcus Decker 2 years and 7 months, and Morgan Trowland, 3 years in prison.
Last weekend, friends and supporters gathered in Victoria Tower Gardens and listened to a phone call from Morgan in his prison cell, before marching together to join a Black Lives Matter protest outside the Home Office, where Marcus’ partner Holly was invited to give the following speech.
“Marcus and Morgan are OK, and they knew what they were doing. They did it to inspire, so be inspired, not angry.”
The Black Lives Matter protest had been called in response to three new pieces of legislation – The Borders Act, The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, and the 2023 Public Order Act which passed into law just last week.
Speakers from many different groups talked about the need to work together, recognising common struggles, with speeches outside the Home Office, and later after a slow march, in the road at Whitehall.
Sara Callaway (Global Women’s Strike) said “For the climate, we have to include everybody, and in fact we all have to be eco-activists, but we also have to be anti-racist activists and international activists.”
Bhavini Patel (Extinction Rebellion) said “They divide and conquer us, and they’ve been doing it a long time… so let’s unite and make sure no-one takes our rights away”.
Weyman Bennett (StandUpToRacism) warned that it’s not the ’small boats’ we should be worried about “I’m worried about the yachts, you know the people that make their money by stealing from us.”
Finally, a short acerbic speech by Daniel York Loh, Chair of Equity Race Equality, who gives his own three-word response to the ‘Stop The Boats’ slogan.
Filmed by Pasqueline Agostinho
The gathering happened just a few days before new powers were introduced by Statutory Instrument, giving the police new disruption and arrest powers to target climate protesters.
As some speakers pointed out, climate protesters are certainly not the first to face police abuse of power and legislation specifically aimed at them. It’s something that Black and brown communities have encountered for decades. But with those communities now also being at the forefront of climate injustice, the call to ‘Unite To Survive’ is urgent and long overdue.