Today 9.30am, London: Filmmaker Jack Harries among nine Extinction Rebellion members on trial for criminal damage during oil protest

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What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers

  • Filmmaker and influencer Jack Harries among nine members of Extinction Rebellion on trial today and Thursday (24th and 25th July, Hendon Magistrates Court).
  • “The Petroleum 9” are charged with criminal damage and aggravated trespass for a peaceful protest against the International Petroleum conference
  • All nine are pleading not guilty. 

Film-maker and influencer Jack Harries is among nine members of Extinction Rebellion on trial at Hendon Magistrates Court today and Thursday (Wednesday 24 July and Thursday 25 July). [1] 

The ‘Petroleum 9’ were arrested for gluing themselves to the doors of the Intercontinental Hotel on London’s Park Lane as part of a peaceful, non-violent protest against the International Petroleum conference – a fossil fuel networking event – held at the hotel on Wednesday 27 February 2019. The action was featured in the recent BBC documentary “Extinction Rebellion: Last Chance to Save the World?” [2] 

With UK temperatures set to reach a record high this week, [3] Jack Harries, a film-maker with 3.9 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.5 million followers on Instagram said:  “I feel proud to stand on trial today alongside many other brave Extinction Rebellion activists, knowing I did what I could to protect the planet for future generations.” 

  • The nine defendants are:
  • Cathy Eastburn, 52, musician and mum, originally from Cornwall, now lives in South London
  • Jack Harries, 26, film-maker and Instagram influencer, lives in London
  • Joel Instone, 29, workers’ co-op cafe worker, Lancashire
  • Sam Knights, 23, actor and writer, lives in London
  • Mark Ovland 36, Buddhist teacher, Somerset
  • Jeremy Parker, 51, IT consultant, originally from Birmingham, now lives in London
  • Yaani Postelnik, 54, Buddhist teacher/minister, from New Zealand, now lives in Devon
  • Serena Schellenberg, 58, TV producer and animal welfare charity worker, originally from Yorkshire, now lives in London
  • Trudi Warner, 64, retired social worker, London

All nine are pleading not guilty. They will be arguing that their actions were reasonable, proportionate and necessary in light of the Climate and Ecological Emergency. 

The protest was against the role of the fossil fuel industry in causing climate change, and the Government’s failure to respond to the crisis. Security staff at the hotel erected screens outside the building in an attempt to shield delegates from the sight of the protestors.

International Petroleum Week – which was held at the Intercontinental Hotel on London’s Park Lane – is an exclusive oil and gas networking event, described by multi-national oil corporation Chevron as “one of the key events for the international oil and gas community”. Industry executives pay £2,770 to register, with additional costs for those who want to attend elite dinners or networking events. Agenda topics included “Unlocking the future growth of oil and gas”.

Delegates at International Petroleum Week 2019 included Liam Fox MP, who – according to Desmog UK – “has a long history of being allied to transatlantic groups that fund and spread disinformation on climate change”. [4] Other panellists included representatives from BP, Schlumberger, and Total. Discussions included “managing tension between sustainability demands and operational, business return”; “unlocking” new “opportunities” in Africa; “portfolio optimisation” and “leveraging disruption”, and how the sector will need to “adapt to climate change impacts” that it regards as “unavoidable”.

Sam Knights, defendant and member of Extinction Rebellion’s Political Strategy Team, said. “We took this action in solidarity with those who are dying right now. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has done everything it can to distract and dissemble. They have been complicit in tragedy after tragedy. And still they refuse to change.

“This year, they met to discuss further expanding their colonial projects in Africa. We did what anyone would do in that situation. We tried to resist. And I am proud of resisting
.”

Following the International Petroleum Week protest, several Extinction Rebellion activists stayed behind to clean their spray-chalked messages from the glass doors of the Intercontinental Hotel. Others headed to West End Central and Holborn police stations to support those arrested on their release.

Extinction Rebellion has launched a CrowdJustice campaign to raise funds for defendants’ legal costs. [5] 

Speaking before the trial, Serena Schellenberg, defendant, 58, said: “I look at my nieces and nephews and my friends young children and the children I don’t know, and feel a profound sadness at the unthinkable legacy of a devastated earth my generation is leaving them.

Out of love for them and our beautiful planet I must act.  And if it means standing up in court after some peaceful civil disobedience I am willing to do this for the Extinction Rebellion movement, which stands for my beliefs.”

Defendant Yanai Postelnik, said: “We face a climate and ecological emergency and I feel compelled by my conscience to stand up for our sacred, fragile planetary ecology, on behalf of our children and all living things who have no voice

The urgency of our circumstance requires sacrifice and I am called to risk my comfort, my privilege and even my liberty, to raise public awareness, to call industry to account for its actions, and bring the governments attention to the danger and to the ecological, social and spiritual devastation that we face, if we do not respond appropriately with courage and commitment, while we still can.”

The Petroleum 9 will be outside the court for photographs at 9.15 today (Wednesday 24th) and available for interview after the trial.

Jack Harries is represented by Kirsty Brimelow QC of Doughty Street Chambers and Mike Shwarz (assisted by Will Durrands) of Bindmans Solicitors. Other defendants are represented by Emma Emma Foubister of  Matrix Chambers and Mike Schwarz (assisted by Will Durrands) of Bindmans Solicitors. Lawyers will be available for comment after the trial. 

Press contact for Extinction Rebellion is Zoë Blackler on +44 (0)7918 165 046

Notes to editors

[1] http://jacksonharries.com/about / https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/27/youtuber-activist-jack-harries-arrested-non-violent-protest-international-petroleum-week-8766448/ / https://metro.co.uk/2019/03/03/youtuber-and-activist-jack-harries-breaks-silence-on-arrest-i-am-terrified-for-the-state-of-my-future-8795264/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-47526985/youtuber-jack-harries-climate-change-protests-were-worth-arrest

[2] “Extinction Rebellion: Last Chance to Save the World”, BBC3, available on the iPlayer. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07fvjfs 

[3] The Sun: “Red Alert: “Toxic” mix of Saharan dust and European wildfires to turn sky RED as Brits set for hottest EVER day at 39 degrees”. (“The Met Office found the heatwaves last summer were 30 times more likely to happen now than in 1750 because of the higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”) “https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9561865/uk-weather-forecast-heatwave-hottest-day-ever/

[4]  https://desmog.co.uk/liam-fox

[5] To donate money towards defendants’ legal costs visit https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/extinction-rebellion-central

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion; whilst the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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