Internal planning documents at Extinction Rebellion show that they’re thinking of trying to close Heathrow for 10 days this summer with the use of drones. The penalty for this sort of thing is, upon conviction, 5 years prison time. If they do it they should indeed be accorded that maximum sentence. And, given the way that “conspiracy to” laws work, so should all who aid them.
Because civil disorder is indeed an important thing.
Yes, it’s possible to argue that we shouldn’t be jailing those who would save us from civilisation and the climate change it causes. But that is to miss the very point of that civil disobedience – to show that the cause is so important that people will risk jail in order to protest.
Extinction Rebellion activists are planning to “shut down” Heathrow Airport for 10 days this summer by flying drones near the airfield. The climate change activists vowed to stage demonstrations on June 18 and again for 10 days beginning on July 1, disrupting flights at a peak time for holidaymakers.
The argument is that a third runway will cause future climate change problems, therefore the demonstration is justified in an attempt to prevent that third runway:
‘On June 18, we plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow Authorities close the airport for the day, to create a ‘pause’ in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, upon the natural world. ‘If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, Extinction Rebellion will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1.
Or as they tweeted:
PRESS RELEASE – The UK Government must cancel all Heathrow expansion. On June 18, we plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to close the airport for the day, to create a “pause” in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities.https://t.co/MJvdre8dGd
— Extinction Rebellion ✈️⌛️✈️ (@ExtinctionR) May 31, 2019
The thing being, this carries a high potential sentence:
It was announced in January that police would be given new powers to tackle the illegal use of drones, after hundreds of flights at Gatwick Airport were disrupted by drone sightings in December. Last year the government made it illegal to fly a drone above 400ft (120m) or within 1km (0.62 miles) of an airport. The exclusion zone will now be extended to the current Air Traffic Zone around airports, which is approximately a 5km (3.1 miles) radius, with additional extensions from runway ends.
Endangering the safety of an aircraft is a criminal offence which can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
The next question being, well, should they be prosecuted if they carry out the action?
Quite Obviously The Extinction Rebellion Protestors Should Be Prosecuted – All Of Them
We around here certainly think so, yes.
The other point being that this is also rather the point. It’s that very willingness to be prosecuted, punished for having protested, which lends weight to the protest. Without that illegality it’s just a stroll around London, isn’t it? Not a sign of your commitment to saving the planet. Not to prosecute devalues the very complaint itself.
Make Extinction Rebellion important, prosecute them all.
If they start the Heathrow drone thing, as they threaten, then catch them all – all of them, the conspirators as well – and jug them for those 5 years. The law is indeed the law, in all its majesty. And who doesn’t want to make housing in Stroud cheaper as the population is significantly reduced?