BREAKING: Barclays 7 given 2 years unconditional suspended sentence for breaking glass during an emergency
January 27, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
At 4.30pm this afternoon, seven women attended sentencing at Southwark Crown Court in London for carefully cracking windows at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf, to draw attention to Barclays’ financing of fossil fuels and to call on the bank to stop accelerating the climate emergency. All seven women were given two years unconditional suspended sentences.
The defendants – Rosemary Annie Webster, 64, Cazzie Wood, 53, Gabby Ditton, 28, Lucy Porter, 48, Sophie Cowen, 31 and Zoe Cohen, 52 and one other – were found guilty during a two week trial last November after being charged with just under £100k worth of criminal damage at Barclays HQ in April 2021. Webster, Wood, Ditton, Cohen and one other received 8 months suspended for 2 years; Porter received 7 months suspended and Cowen received 6 months suspended. All of them will pay £500 each towards prosecution costs to be paid within 1 year.
Sophie Cowen said: “Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions, and sometimes we have to go beyond what we see as the norm. I certainly did when I took this action. I wasn’t sure whether it might put the social enterprise I built from scratch into jeopardy. But I also knew that I had to do something. I had to do something more than a traditional campaign. I had to do something more to break them out of business as usual, to stop the harm, to wake them up from their relentless cycle of fossil fuel funding. To help them to make the decisions that they know, in their hearts, beyond the profits, beyond the reputation – are the ones that will support life.
“The decisions we make today will shape our tomorrow. The climate crisis isn’t ‘our belief’ or ‘our opinion’. It’s the truth. And it’s here. We can only solve the climate crisis if we, together, question what we’re told can’t change, and together, write a new history.”
Zoe Cohen said: “146 million people across Africa are facing extreme hunger caused by climate drought – that’s more than twice the entire population of the UK. Imagine you, your family and your whole community literally starving. This is now, and this real life horror story is currently only going one way. Mass hunger and cold here in the UK is also a result of banks, government and corporations addiction to fossil fuels and short term profit above all else.
“Banks like Barclays have funded this death project. This is not an accident. The people on the Boards of Barclays and the other major ‘investors’ have made these decisions. They have put short term gain for the already rich above the lives and health of billions, even above the continuation of organised human civilisation. I stand by my actions, and I was will to take the consequences. It is blindingly obvious that it is Nigel Higgins, the Chair of Barclays, and the rest of the Board members who should be in prison and not the ordinary women trying to stop this genocide.”
Cazzie Wood said: “I’m just a working class mum desperately trying to protect my daughter’s future from irreversible and catastrophic climate breakdown. We have less than 1,000 days to do this. We need to act on the science now!”
This morning more than 100 women dressed as suffragettes marched from the Bank of England to the court with banners and placards saying ‘Barclays are the Real Criminals’ and ‘Barclays Profit while the World Burns’ to show their support and read speeches in solidarity. When there, the defendants were joined by Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of Suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst; actor Juliet Stevenson; campaigners Phoebe Plummer, an activist with Just Stop Oil who recently threw soup over a painting; Pragna Patel, the founder of Southall Black Sisters, and Clare Farrell, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.
Helen Pankhurst, great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, said: “It takes courage to challenge the status quo, to risk prison for a cause and to speak truth to power. I’m here in support of the Climate Activists being sentenced today, and in memory of my grandmother and great-grandmother and all the suffragettes who did likewise, over a century ago.”
Pragna Patel, founding member of Southall Black Sisters and campaigner for race and gender justice said: “Throughout history, we have seen that the right to protest and dissent is vital in any movement for social justice: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and many others have taught us that civil disobedience and non-cooperation lie at the very heart of struggles for democracy and social justice.
“This is why our right to protest is under attack everywhere. We understand this as women who have had to struggle for survival in the face of abuse at home and on the streets, and we know we have to stand by the climate justice activists in the face of these show trials: we stand together, because we may be in the dock in their place tomorrow.”
Juliet Stevenson, actor said: “Nonviolent protesters are today facing the prospect of prison. But we all know who the real criminals are. They are those in government, in fossil fuel companies and in banks who are refusing to take action on the climate emergency and are condemning our children and grandchildren to an unlivable future. I am glad to be here today in solidarity with those who are standing up for the environment with deeds and words.”
The women who were sentenced aimed to increase public awareness of Barclays role in climate change. Barclays is the UK and Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels. Since 2021, when the International Energy Agency concluded there could be no new oil, gas or coal development if the world was to reach net zero by 2050, Barclays has invested over $19 billion in fossil fuels. Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, their total investment in fossil fuels is over $166 billion.[2[
Extinction Rebellion is recommending that local residents who use Barclays switch their accounts to a more ethical bank using information services such as: https://www.switchit.green/about.
 The “Barclays 7” – Rosemary Annie Webster, 64, Cazzie Wood, 54, Gabby Ditton, 28, Lucy Porter, 48, Sophie Cowen, 31, Zoe Cohen, 52 and one other – were charged with just under £100k worth of criminal damage at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf in April 2021.
 International Energy Agency: Net Zero by 2050 https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/deebef5d-0c34-4539-9d0c-10b13d840027/NetZeroby2050-ARoadmapfortheGlobalEnergySector_CORR.pdf
 ] Banking on climate chaos report, 2022: https://reclaimfinance.org/site/en/2022/03/30/banking-on-climate-chaos-report-2022/
 “Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame”
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.