Women who broke glass at JPMorgan sentenced after bank named top funder for fossil fuels - Extinction Rebellion UK

Women who broke glass at JPMorgan sentenced after bank named top funder for fossil fuels

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• Amy Pritchard singled out for imprisonment, sent straight to jail
• All five women have lodged appeals due to abuse of process by Judge Silas Reid
• JPMorgan named bank that pumped most money into fossil fuels in 2023
• Follows acquittal of nine women for breaking HSBC windows

Just weeks after JPMorgan Chase was identified as the largest lender to fossil fuel companies by far in 2023, five women from Extinction Rebellion who “broke glass in case of climate emergency” at the bank’s European headquarters have been sentenced for what the bank claimed to be £306,000 worth of criminal damage.[1][2][3]

Appearing at Inner London Crown Court in front of Judge Silas Reid, Amy Pritchard was given a 12 month sentence which was reduced to 10 months due to overcrowding, while the other four were given a total of 45 months suspended sentences between them plus a total of 330 hours of unpaid work in their communities.

A date for the appeal against these convictions is expected soon and may lead to the convictions being deemed ‘unsafe’.

The five women sentenced today are: Stephanie Aylett, 29, a former medical device representative from St Albans; Pamela Bellinger, 67, a vegetable grower from Leicester; Amy Pritchard, 39, an agricultural and woodland worker from Liverpool; Adelheid Russenberger, 33, PhD student from Richmond, London; and Rosemary (Annie) Webster, 66, a retired cook and beekeeper from Dorchester, Dorset.

Before she was sent to jail, Amy Pritchard, 39, an agricultural and woodland worker from Liverpool, who has previously been sent to jail by Judge Silas Reid for mentioning climate change in front of a jury [4] said: “I support and stand by proportionate and appropriate action to prevent harm. As Naomi Klein says: “Our economic system and our planetary system are at war … only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.” I call on people to continue to engage with injustice with as much courage as possible.”

In his extraordinary World Environment Day “Moment of Truth” speech last week UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on financial institutions to “stop bankrolling fossil fuel destruction and start investing in a global renewables revolution.”[5]

The latest Banking On Climate Chaos report (May 2024) shows that JPMorgan Chase committed $40.8 billion to fossil fuels in 2023 – way more than any other bank. It was also the leading lender to companies expanding fossil fuels, and the bank that has pumped the most into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement in 2016 – an ‘investment’ of $430 billion.[3] Such funding makes achieving the Paris Agreement targets unachievable and keeps us locked in to the business as usual trajectory of 3C-4C of average planetary warming of untold suffering and destruction.[6]

The bank is operating in the full knowledge that it is putting all of humanity in grave danger as a leaked report produced by the bank’s own economic advisors warned its directors that carrying on with business-as-usual “would likely push the earth to a place that we haven’t seen for many millions of years … something will have to change at some point if the human race is going to survive.” [7][8]

The sentencing comes after all defendants lodged appeals on grounds of abuse of process by Judge Silas Reid. During the trial Reid threatened the jurors with criminal charges if they brought their conscience to bear on their deliberations. What Reid said told the jury would be criminal however has subsequently been affirmed in the high court to be actually “an established feature of our constitutional landscape and has been affirmed, as set out below, in the highest courts.”[9][10]

Reid also cast doubt on the existence and severity of the climate crisis during the trial in front of the jury.[9] Commenting on this development Professor James E. Hansen, the former NASA scientist and ‘godfather of climate science’, said: “The cruelty of such ‘know nothing’ judges is not so much to the defendant as it is to our children and grandchildren.”

As a result of these actions Reid is the subject of a public complaint and a call for his suspension that is supported by more than 1,800 people. Signatories include Chris Packham, leading international lawyers, James E. Hansen, Jonathon Porritt CBE, health professionals, retired police and probation officers, and people from all walks of life.[11]

Last November nine Extinction Rebellion women were acquitted for breaking windows at the headquarters of HSBC.[12] The trial was run by a different judge who did not threaten the jury with criminal charges.

Natasha Walter, writer and campaigner, said: “The women who took this action against the biggest financier of fossil fuels in the world are carrying forward a vital legacy of nonviolent civil disobedience. As with the Suffragettes who broke the law in order to make the case for progressive change, these women should not be seen as criminals. The real criminals are those who, despite all the evidence that we are on track to create an unliveable climate for future generations, continue to pour money into oil and gas and continue to drive us into a dangerously warming world.”

Arizona Muse, fashion model, mother and environmentalist said: “I have so much admiration for the forward-thinking, community-minded actions taken by these brave women waving the XR flag. I know that in the future we will look back on them and we will all be grateful for their selflessness and courage.”

Notes to Editors

[1] Women found guilty for breaking glass after judge threatens jurors with criminal charges: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2024/03/02/women-who-broke-glass-in-case-of-climate-emergency-at-jpmorgan-found-guilty-after-judge-threatens-jurors-with-criminal-charges/

[2] The Dirty Dozen: The Worst Banks Since The Paris Agreement: https://twitter.com/bmcushing/status/1789872713089089911

[3] Banking On Climate Chaos – Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2024, Rainforest Action Network, May 2024: https://www.bankingonclimatechaos.org

[4] Activists jailed for seven weeks for defying ban on mentioning climate crisis: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/activists-jailed-for-seven-weeks-for-defying-ban-on-mentioning-climate-crisis/

[5] Secretary-General’s special address on climate action “A Moment of Truth”: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2024-06-05/secretary-generals-special-address-climate-action-moment-of-truth%C2%A0

[6] New fossil fuels ‘incompatible’ with 1.5C goal, comprehensive analysis finds: https://www.carbonbrief.org/new-fossil-fuels-incompatible-with-1-5c-goal-comprehensive-analysis-finds/

[7] JPMorgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/21/jp-morgan-economists-warn-climate-crisis-threat-human-race

[8] JPMorgan Special Report “Risky business – the climate and the macroeconomy”: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/JPM_Risky_business__the_climate_and_the_macroeconomy_2020-01-14_3230707.pdf.pdf

[9] HM Solicitor General v Warner Judgment 22.4.24: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/HM-Solicitor-General-v-Warner-Judgment-22.4.24-KB.pdf

[10] Judge Threatens Jury With Criminal Charges If They Apply Conscience To Climate Trial: https://planb.earth/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/PR-Judge-Reid-March-24.pdf

[11] Public Call For Suspension Of ‘Dangerous’ Judge Who Threatened Jury: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vp3OtJl8urlkr5AA1_UnQXA9rkHRI8GrqnKJEcdVJFI/edit

[12] Jury finds women who broke HSBC windows ‘not guilty’: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2023/11/16/jury-finds-women-who-broke-hsbc-windows-not-guilty/

About Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

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Time has almost entirely run out to address the climate and ecological crisis which is upon us, including the sixth 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, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

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