Rising Tide activists celebrate after court validates their coal train action

August 30, 2023
From left: Raffi, Violet CoCo, Richard Boult, Anne Hodgson, Kara Stuart and Hugh Vaughan. Photo: Rising Tide

A Newcastle magistrate said on August 29 that “any reasonable person would agree with the goals of this action”. They were referring to the cases of the final five of 51 climate protestors, arrested for taking part in a Rising Tide anti-coal protest in April.

Violet CoCo, who was sentenced last December to 15 month’s jail for disrupting traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, avoided more jail time. She was handed a new community corrections order (CCO).

CoCo’s custodial sentence was overturned on appeal in March. However, she was placed under a 12-month CCO. By participating in the Rising Tide train protest, she broke that order which is why he had to face court again for the Harbour Bridge protest.

“Newcastle Port is the largest coal port in the world, transporting 1% cent of all global emissions. We have a responsibility to end fossil fuels,” CoCo said before the hearing.

“Even though I will miss my family, I am more afraid of the effects of climate breakdown than a custodial sentence. That is why I continue to engage in peaceful protest.”

Grandmother Anne Hodgson, Hugh Vaughan and Richard Boult, both retirees from Gadi/Sydney and Kara Stuart, a local government worker from Victoria, also had their cases heard on August 29.

Stuart and Boult received no convictions and no fines. Hodgson and Vaughan were given a $440 fine each.

Raffi, from Blockade Australia, also faced court for their courageous action stopping coal trains in June. They received an 18-month CCO and no fine.

Rising Tide spokesperson Anne Hodgson said: “We are in the precipice of catastrophic climate breakdown and yet state and federal Labor continues to drive us closer to the edge by approving new fossil fuel projects.

“Non-violent civil disobedience has been one of the most powerful historic forces of social change.”

Rising Tide activists will be back in court on September 13, as 19 of the Rising Tide 51 appeal their original convictions.

[Rising Tide is organising a two-day national “People’s Blockade” in November. You can join it here.]

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