Climate activist Violet Coco will appear in court today to appeal against her 15 month prison sentence for engaging in a non-violent direct action protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April 2022. Violet is the first person to have been charged under draconian new anti-protest laws introduced by the NSW Liberal National Coalition Government.
Greens MP Sue Higginson and spokesperson for justice said “Violet is a brave and compassionate person who is very concerned about government inaction in the face of the dangerous impacts of climate change. She engaged in an act of non-violent civil disobedience which caused minor inconvenience for a short time. Rather than see it for what it was and respond to the conscious objection being expressed, the Coalition Government took an intolerant, anti-protester response. Intolerant law and order agendas are inflammatory and dangerous to our democracy. We saw the police rely on inflammatory false evidence and Violet was sentenced to 15 months in prison. When Governments behave without tolerance, restraint and understanding things go dangerously wrong, fast”.
“Imprisoning non-violent protesters is not befitting of a civilised and mature democracy. It is undemocratic and a clear lurch towards an authoritarian regime where people are punished for engaging in legitimate forms of dissent and civil disobedience. The anti-protest conditions created by the Liberal National Coalition Government against climate and environmental activists needs to be called out and wound back.
“I have seen first hand, the positive results that can be achieved by citizens taking direct action to protect themselves, society and the natural world. The old growth forests that are now protected by law in NSW are there because people like Violet and I were willing to put ourselves in the way of the bulldozers that would’ve torn those forests down. Unlike Violet today. I was not threatened with the prospect of being sent to prison back then and I applaud the bravery of people that are taking that risk today to raise awareness about climate change.
“In years to come, society and governments will have to take stock of and reflect on the way we responded to the existential threat of the changing climate. People like Violet, who have been vilified by unjust and undemocratic anti-protest legislation, will be recognised for their commitment to protecting us and the environment from runaway climate change.
“I will be at the Downing Street centre today with many others of Violet’s supporters to make sure she is not left to face this ordeal alone. Society and democracy are best served when we listen to one another and treat others with respect. The approach taken by this Government to disrespect and punish dissenters is the opposite of what we should expect in a mature and functional democracy,” Ms Higginson said.