Outside court after a surprising ‘not guilty’ verdict we filmed these first reactions from the defendants, Roger Hallam and Dave Durant, who had been accused of thousands of pounds of damage at Kings College London when they used chalk spray on stone walls as part of a campaign of direct action to force divestment from fossil fuels.
Despite Judge Gledhill’s directions to the jury, the 12 citizens had heard enough from the defendants to bring a surprising ‘not guilty’ verdict.
This is a double win for the campaigners, as the university had agreed to divest all their funds from fossil fuels by 2022, to become carbon neutral as an institution by 2025, and to plough extra money into additional research on climate change. Kings College is now running a PR campaign with posters around the college boasting of their green credentials.
Standard student divestment campaigns had been unsuccessful over several years, but the series of dramatic and challenging direct actions at the start of 2017, coupled with amicable non-violent communication at all times with the decision-makers at the university, brought astounding success within a few weeks. Behind the campaign was Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Roger Hallam, who was trying out a practical application of his developing theories on radical mobilisation, the subject of his PhD research at the college.
The university dropped all sanctions against the students involved, as part of the mutual agreement, but two years later, the Crown Prosecution Service tried to bring the indictments as they claimed it was in the public interest. It seems the public, as represented by the jury, thought otherwise.
We’ll bring you a more in-depth report on the court case soon.