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Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam and co-defendant David Durant have been acquitted of criminal damage for spray chalking the King’s College London building during a protest in 2017.

In a unanimous verdict, a jury at Southwark Crown Court found both defendants not guilty of all charges.

The peaceful non-violent civil disobedience, a pre-curser to the Extinction Rebellion protests, resulted in Kings College divesting £14 million from all fossil fuels, pledging to become carbon neutral by 2025 and devoting substantial resources towards research into the climate and ecological emergency.

Reacting to the unanimous verdict, Roger Hallam said:

“We spent three days in crown court to face charges of criminal damage for spray chalking the grand hall of King’s College London to get them to divest from fossil fuels. I was interrupted 15 times by the Judge to stop me speaking to the jury about the climate breakdown. Nonetheless, the jury has just found us not guilty on all charges. Direct action works and is justified.”

“It shows that when ordinary people faced the truth, they understand the climate and ecological emergency better than our politicians.”

David Durant said:

“This shows it’s time to put our trust in the people. 12 citizens have seen through the prosecution’s attempt to present those fighting for life on earth as the criminals. This is why we need a Citizens’ Assembly”

Roger and David defended themselves during the three-day trial at Southwark Crown Court, appealing to the twelve jury members to rule according to their conscience.

They admitted that they had caused the damage but argued that their actions were a proportionate response to the climate crisis.

The judge repeatedly interrupted both Roger and David to prevent them speaking about climate breakdown, ruling it was “irrelevant”, and telling the jury to ignore the defence that direct action was a necessary response to the climate crisis.

At the start of the case, the Judge told the jury this was not a case about the issue of climate crisis, but about damaging property and whether the defendants had a lawful excuse. He said he would not allow the trial to be “sidelined into the issues”.

Roger faced two charges of criminal damage. The first for spray-chalking the columns outside King’s College London’s main building on the Strand on 19th January 2017 with the words “DIVEST FROM OIL AND GAS” “OUT OF TIME” and “NOW”.

The second count related to a larger protest on 1 February 2017, during which Roger and David, supported by a number of other students, spray-chalked inside the college’s Great Hall.

David faced just one count of criminal damage for the February 1st action.

Following the King’s College protest Hallam went on to co-found Extinction Rebellion UK, relying on the same principles of non-violent civil disobedience used during the King’s College London action.

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