Sydney Climate Activists Given Outrageous Bail Conditions

How can you ban an activist from hanging out with their mates?

The Extinction Rebellion (often referred to as XR) protest yesterday was considered a success for a number of reasons – it had hundreds of attendees, was non-violent and disrupted the commute to bring awareness to climate change.

The Spring Rebellion is meant to be disruptive – really, isn’t that the whole point of protesting? When your words are ignored, when statistics and science and logic are consistently thrown out the window, what are you supposed to do?

Protesting and causing havoc on the main streets of Australia’s cities is a last ditch attempt to get our insipid government to actually give a shit about our futures. With Australia’s emissions only going up, and ScoMo’s wet dreams for coal, the future is indeed looking bleak. People power is the only thing we have left, and we are going to use it.

Of course, climate activists face barriers. In a wildly forceful response to the non-violent protesters, police arrested 38 protesters in Sydney. ABC reported an old woman crying “you’re hurting me” as police dragged her across the tarmac.

A woman being dragged by police at the Extinction Rebellion protest in Sydney.

Low-Level Charges With Impossible Bail Conditions

The charges for the climate activists arrested (aged between 19-75) are low-level, such as failure to comply with direction and obstructing traffic. You would think the bail conditions would reflect this. You would be wrong.

The National Union Of Students Against Racism’s Ethnocultural officer Hersha Kadkol released a statement detailing the arrests.

Absolutely outrageous that protesters who took to the streets today for climate justice were not only arrested by heavy-handed riot cops but are being kept in custody overnight, including my fellow NUS office-bearer Lily who was leading the Sydney protest.

The bail conditions they have been handed are totally out of kilter with the very minor charge of obstructing traffic: they include a ban from the Sydney CBD with a 2 km radius, non-association with other members of Extinction Rebellion and a ban on attending future XR events.

These conditions are impossible to meet and are a deliberate attempt to stymy the growing movement of civil disobedience for the climate.

The statement continued:

They have rightfully refused to sign. These bail conditions are a massive attack on our right to protest. The police are using them to keep activists in custody for extended periods of time – they are acting as judge and jury for the protesters whose “crime” it is to fight for our future.”

Lily Campbell, office bearer of the National Union of Students Against Racism, being arrested by police at the Extinction Rebellion protest in Sydney. Image from the NUS Against Racism Facebook.

What This Means For Climate Activists

Banning a student from the Sydney CBD is ridiculous for a number of reasons – obviously, the CBD is integral to most people’s commute to their workplace or university, but even more outrageous is the order of non-assosciation with other members of Extinction Rebellion. If you know your fellow protesters in your daily life as friends and family, what are you supposed to do? Throw yourself into social isolation?

The bail conditions set by the cops are intentionally impossible to follow and designed to divide and conquer climate activists. They are to create fear around protesting in order to stop the climate movement.

At the moment, activists are attending court to get the bail conditions adjusted. More to come.

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