The court heard that during last year’s demonstration in downtown London, climate activist Greta Thunberg was issued a “final warning” by police to relocate to a designated protest location. However, she was detained for remaining put.
While oil executives gathered inside the InterContinental Hotel in Mayfair for the Energy Intelligence Forum on October 17, the 21-year-old Swedish national was apprehended during the protest outside the venue.
In November, each of the defendants—Thumberg, two Fossil Free London (FFL) demonstrators, and two Greenpeace activists—pleaded not guilty to violating Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986. On Thursday, they were brought to trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Protesters began congregating outside the hotel at 7:30 in the morning, according to the court record, and police spoke with them about solving the problem of “impossible” public access.
Two demonstrators “were slowly abseiling down the side of the building” after gaining access to the roof, according to prosecutor Luke Staton, who made the statement just before 10:30 in the morning.
The court heard that at approximately 12:30 pm, the limitation imposed by section 14 was that the protest could only take place on the pavement south of the hotel.
The “majority” of those inside the hotel were reportedly unable to leave, and no one could get inside, thus the police felt it was “necessary” to take this action to avoid any disruption.
The court heard that beginning at 1 p.m., specific officers communicated with demonstrators one-on-one, informing them of the section 14 condition.
According to what was said in court, police advised Thunberg of the situation and the designated protest area as they approached her as she stood at the hotel entrance. According to Mr. Staton’s testimony, one officer had threatened to arrest her if she did not cooperate.
According to the prosecutor, another officer approached Thunberg and “gave her a final warning” while the first officer was occupied with other matters. Her statement that she intended to remain where she was led to her arrest, according to Mr. Staton.
Even though they were also warned of the section 14 condition, the other defendants did not go to the authorized protest area, according to the court. The five defendants were all charged with participating in a public assembly, according to Mr. Staton.
“They knew or ought to have known that a section 14 condition had been imposed and they all failed to comply with that condition.” At several points throughout the proceedings, Thunberg took notes.
On her walk to the courtroom, she passed environmental activists and journalists who had gathered to show their “in solidarity” with the defendants. Protesters had erected huge yellow banners reading “Climate protest is not a crime” and cardboard placards reading “Who are the real criminals?” during their demonstration.
Thunberg, who was clad in a grey jacket, grinned at the photographers as she entered the building. On Friday, the trial will resume.
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