9.30am today, Westminster Mags Court: Verdict due for two Extinction Rebellion protestors charged with criminal damage to Parliament Sq
March 30, 2019 by Nuala
Phone: +44(0)7804743058 / +44 (0)7760280443 / +44(0)7986671716
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR; #ExtinctionRebellion
Climate Factsheet for Rebels: https://rebellion.earth/the-climate-factsheet-for-rebels
- Two extinction Rebellion protestors to hear verdict at Westminster Magistrates Court at 9.30am today (Friday 29 March)
- Both charged with criminal damage for attempting to dig a grave on Parliament Square as part of Extinction Rebellion’s symbolic funeral service for Life on Earth
- Grandfather of three, Stephen McDonald, and activist Paolo Enoch, both in their 60s, face fines plus costs for their role in November peaceful protest
- Stephen says: “I am fighting for the right of my grandchildren to grow up on an Earth fit for living. I refuse to be led quietly to annihilation by the cowardice and avarice of politicians”
- Both defendants have pleaded not guilty, relying on the “conscientious protector” defence.
Charged with criminal damage, 62 year old builder and decorator Stephen McDonald who is grandfather of three, and translator Paolo Enoch, also 62, will attend a verdict hearing at 9.30am Westminster Crown Court today. The verdict follows a trial earlier this week at Hendon Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
The pair, who have pleaded not guilty to criminal damage, were arrested for attempting to dig a grave on Parliament Square during a funeral service for Life on Earth as part of Rebellion Day 2 protest by Extinction Rebellion on 24 November last year.  A further four protesters were arrested for spray chalking during the protests, but their charges were later dropped.
During the peaceful action protesters had planned to bury a coffin in the middle of the conservation area, but were prevented from doing so by police. More than 1,000 people were present, dressed in black, all gathered to mourn the loss of life the planet has and will experience – around 200 species per day and rising. 
Stephen McDonald, a builder and painter/decorator from Dorking in Surrey, who has never before faced criminal charges, said he was willing to go to prison to highlight the government’s gross negligence in tackling climate change and the existential threat to all living things, including humans.
Stephen, speaking before the trial, said: “It is my hope that our government will come to realise that taking action to protect the future well-being of the human race and all life on earth will be seen as a virtue and something to be proud of rather than a criminal offence.”
“There is no problem on Earth that requires more urgency than climate change. As a result of greenhouse gas emissions and ecological abuse, 200 species have become extinct in the last 24hrs and are doing so each and every day.
“I am fighting for the right of my grandchildren to grow up on an Earth fit for living. I refuse to be led quietly to annihilation by the cowardice and avarice of politicians.”
Not guilty – actions proportional to threat of climate breakdown and Government inaction
Both defendants have pleaded not guilty. Although they admit to digging up the grass, they argue their actions were proportional to the dire threat of climate breakdown and the Government’s lack of action. They see that their actions are consistent with their rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of conscience as set out in the Human Rights Act.
During the trial, both defendants said they had previously tried other means to raise attention to the issue. But faced with government inaction, felt they had no choice but to resort to nonviolent direct action. They said they had intended to repair the damage to the grass, but were prevented from doing so by police.
The funeral service, a sombre event which took place on Parliament Square on 24 November 2018, was the second Rebellion Day held by Extinction Rebellion following its declaration of rebellion on 31 October. Protesters then walked to Buckingham Palace to deliver a message to the Queen. 
- 1 April – Paint the Streets Worldwide: Disobey to Tell the Truth – Global. Calling rebels willing to join a week of mass flyposting, using non-violent civil disobedience to tell the truth on climate breakdown and ecological collapse. We will use stickers, posters, banners and more, covering the streets with our messages, to shake awake our fellow human beings who are sleepwalking into disaster.
- 15 April – International Rebellion – Global. Extinction Rebellion activists in the UK and around the world are calling for a full-scale international rebellion: to demand decisive action on the climate and ecological collapse from governments around the world. Come to stay and book time off work.
- Lots more protests and events! There are many other actions and events happening now in London and around the UK due to Extinction Rebellion’s decentralised structure (too many to list here). For the latest news, see the website: https://rebellion.earth/events/ plus also check out the facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExtinctionRebellion/events/.
Notes to editors
- International Rebellion begins 15 April –https://www.facebook.com/events/126622414898833/
- Climate Factsheet for Rebels https://rebellion.earth/the-climate-factsheet-for-rebels/
- About Extinction Rebellion:
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction 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 its Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- The Government must tell the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens
- The Government must enact policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels
- A national Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
Get involved in Extinction Rebellion’s other events:
- In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out
- Start a group where you are – locally in the UK or in your country around the world
- Find your local group: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=11jUqqjTHMThksd4KbvGGzb3I3Cr3PkBl&usp=sharing
- Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German, Italian and UK websites
- We are holding Collaborative Leadership Calls to help coach people to improve their leadership skills and capacities
- And while your time and energy are the most important things, if you are financially able to donate money, see our Fundrazr crowdfunder.
UK website: https://rebellion.earth/
International website: https://xrebellion.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ExtinctionR hashtag #ExtinctionRebellion
Declaration of Rebellion: https://rebellion.earth/declaration/
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.