Quite why this should be controversial, why it should even be news is unknown:
Scotland Yard is pushing to prosecute all the 1,130 people arrested in the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest as it called for tougher penalties to deter similar demonstrations. The Metropolitan Police has set up a dedicated unit of 30 officers to investigate the public order offences allegedly committed by the arrested protesters who range in age from 19 to over 70. “It is our anticipation that we are putting all of those [arrested] to the Crown Prosecution Service,” said Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner. Be thought to have committed an offence, get arrested, be prosecuted, that’s just what the system is.
Ah, but they were doing it for humanity? Fine, that’s just fine. Justifications are the thing we put to the jury. If they agree then they’ll find not guilty. Sure, jury nullification isn’t something judges like but it’s a reality for all that. We only have to go back and look at people convicted of stealing to the value of 4 shillings and 11 d when the sentence for 5 shillings was hanging. And juries decided the value of the items stolen.
It’s actually necessary for the prosecution to proceed in order to reach the stage of the system where justifications are heard.
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.