Brave #Heathrow13 Won Massive Boost for the Movement to Stop Airport Expansion

  • Court took U-turn over a prison sentence in the face of huge community support to and solidarity with climate activists
  • 6 weeks suspended sentence for 12 months

By Rumana Hashem

The 13 amazing climate activists at Plane Stupid, who faced final sentencing on Wednesday for protesting against new runways and for attempting to protect the communities from catastrophic climate change, have won a massive boost for the movement to stop new runways in the UK. Although the brave #Heathrow13 were accused of aggravated trespass and entering restricted area of an aerodrome, the district judge was impressed by the defendants’ good character and commitment. They were given sentences of six weeks suspended for 12 months.

The thirteen activists were able to avert prison, following a remarkable protest of more than 300 climate activists who gathered outside the Willesden magistrates’ court in north-west London and demonstrated against the final sentencing of the #Heathrow13, and opposed possible expansion of the airport. The suspended sentence now means that if the 13 activists break the law within a year, they are likely to serve the sentence. This verdict is not fair judgement; however, it is undeniable that the court’s U-turn over a prison sentence was an outcome of the unprecedented support that the passionate #Heathrow13 had received from the community people.

 

The #Heathrow13 returns  from the court by averting jail on 24 Feb 2016

The #Heathrow13 returns from the court by averting jail on 24 Feb 2016. Photo: Plane Stupid

During the trial at Willesden magistrates court in north-west London, over 300 passionate throng of protesters gathered outside the court while thousands of national and international climate activists had shown virtual support, and were vigilant online throughout the day. The support of community activists and environmentalists outside the court was powerful. Supporters had spilled into the road, waved banners protesting against a third runway at Heathrow, chanted slogans, and made robust speeches amid heavy state security. Speakers at the demo include Heathrow’s MP John McDonnell, and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas.

As the incredible #Heathrow13 defendants had argued, their actions were reasonable, proportionate and necessary to prevent death and serious injury via air pollution and climate change. They pointed out correctly that 31 people a year die prematurely around Heathrow due to its pollution, and thousands die due to the effects of climate change. Their trial  was not a great a outcome though what it means is that community volunteers will return to community work in near future.

In a published statement Plane Stupid  noted:

This is a huge relief for the activists and their families, and a massive boost for the movement to stop airport expansion. The court’s U-turn over a prison sentence is a vindication of the right to peaceful protest.

As they denounced that: It’s because of people power that we don’t have a third runway now. People power will stop new runways again. We’re in it for the long haul. “No ifs, no buts”.

Phulbari Solidarity Group stands with the #Heathrow13 and colleagues at Plane Stupid who will continue to work on to stop new runway at Heathrow. It is time to join our shoulders, and work hand in hand to prevent climate change and to protect our planet from destruction. Evidently, emissions from aviation are destroying people’s lives. People in the Heathrow area, who already have to breathe illegal levels of air pollution and suffer intolerable noise, would now see their homes destroyed. People across the UK have been flooded at Christmas, and every year hundreds of thousands more people die due to climate change – mostly in countries in the Global South, like Bangladesh, the people least responsible for emissions.

The UK Government is expected to make its decision on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick – or neither – this year. It is important for us to succeed to persuade the Government to act appropriately and to cancel new runways.  It’s one or the other: build new runways or protect us from climate chaos. The people in the Global South who are dying due to climate change already have no voice in the debate. We can show them that jailing peaceful protesters will not silence those of us who do.

Therefore, we need to continue to show our support to #Heathrow13 and the campaign against airport  expansion.

Read more here to learn how to take action

Watch the video

Further news  coverage is below:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/24/heathrow-13-climate-change-protesters-avoid-jail

 

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Support the #Heathrow13, Join Demo – Stop Airport Expansion

By Rumana Hashem

On Wednesday, 24 February 2016, the #Heathrow13 will return to court for final sentencing. The brave 13 activists, known as #Heathrow13, were found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering the security restricted area of London Heathrow Airport’s (LHR) north runway in protest of plans to build a third runway. All 13 have been told by District Judge Deborah Wright that they “should all come expecting custodial sentences” because they disobeyed security restrictions of Heathrow Airport to save the greens, environment and their very own planet.

Those 13 climate protesters are facing prison to silence protest against new runways which would wreck Government policy to protect us from catastrophic climate change.  Activists of the Plane Stupid stated that they will continue to support #Heathrow13 and that they are determined to oppose and stop airport expansion. They are holding a demo OUTSIDE the court from 9am SHARP tomorrow – together with Heathrow residents and others. In support of the brave #Heathrow13, they will be rallying outside the court and will say that:

  • Climate justice is the only appropriate form of justice here
  • Prison time for protecting the climate is a massive #Redline
  • We need to Stop Aviation Expansion & Stop Co2lonialism!

Phulbari Solidarity Group stands in solidarity with the Plane Stupid activists, and strongly oppose the final sentencing of #Heathrow13 . In support of the #Heathrow13 we signed the petition to Stop Airport Expansion.   We ask everyone to sign and share the petition against aviation expansion  https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/support-the-heathrow-13-and-stop-the-new-runway-1

The PSG also calls upon everyone to come and join Plane Stupid’s demo: #Heathrow13 – FINAL SENTENCING which will be held between 9am to 12 noon, at Willesden Magistrates’ Court, London.

The full address for the court is:
Willesden Magistrates’ Court
448 High Road
London
NW10 2DZ
Nearest tube: Neasden OR Dollis Hill (Jubilee Line)

The demo will start at 9am, and the sentencing hearing will start at 10am. Outcome of sentencing is expected around 12noon. Those who could not make it physically can express solidarity on social media – on Facebook event page  and on Twitter @PlaneStupid #Heathrow13

Read further news about the #Heathrow13:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/11/prison-sentences-for-heathrow-13-activists-would-threaten-our-right-to-protest

https://newint.org/blog/2016/01/26/mass-civil-obedience-is-killing-us/

http://newint.org/blog/2016/01/12/stop-aviation-stop-co2lonialism/

http://newint.org/blog/2015/08/20/heathrow-expansion-protest/http://www.planestupid.com/