British court OKs vandalism of UK coal plants
In a September 10, 08 ruling a British jury handed down a ruling that essentially encourages vandalism of the UKs coal-fueled power plants.
Six Greenpeace activists were on trial for causing £30,000 (approx USD $55,000) of criminal damage to the stack at the Kingsnorth generation station. They had planned to paint "Gordon Bin It" — a call for British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown to toss coal into the trash "bin." However, they only managed to get "Gordon" painted before they were stopped by police.
defence was that they had ‘lawful excuse’ – because they were acting to protect property around the world "in immediate need of protection" from the impacts of climate change, caused in part by burning coal.
At the conclusion of their trial, the jury acquitted the group. Not surprisingly, the Greenpeace website is crowing about their court victory.
One wonders, however, about the potential fall out of this court ruling. If activists are now allowed to invade, attack, and damage or destroy private property because of their stated belief that, in doing so, they are protecting others from harm, this ruling could effectively open up all electrical generators to attacks by environmental campaigners.
It will become impossible for industrial operations to operate safely as they will not know if activists are roaming their plants looking for machinery to damage and deface. Worse, they will not be able to prosecute those activists should they catch them in the act as British courts will protect their criminal enterprise if they simply claim they were trying to "protect property" outside of the plant by damaging the company’s ability to operate.
The complete lack of logic and common sense inherent in this court ruling become obvious when one considers that frustrated miners, utility workers, or the general public who are being put out of work, losing their homes, and jobs through the impacts of green direct action could use the same defense to justify "direct action" campaigns against environmental groups.
Since breaking and entering, destruction of private property, vandalism, and other criminal acts are now justifiable if one is concerend about property "in need of protection," people acting to stop green groups from ruining their jobs, their workplaces, their homes, traditions, lifestyles, and communities would logically enjoy similar protection from prosecution.
This ruling opens up a potential Pandora’s box of tit for tat attacks and actually encourages the breakdown of civility and discourse. One hopes that the British government has the good sense to appeal the ruling.