Violet CoCo released from Silverwater, but charges remain

December 13, 2022
Outside the Downing Street Centre courts on December 13. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

Judge Timothy Gartelmann rejected the Crown’s arguments on December 13 and released climate activist Violet CoCo, on bail, pending her appeal on March 2, 2023.

Democratic rights protesters had assembled early that day at the Downing Street Courts to show their solidarity. Rallies have been held all over the country in support of CoCo after she was jailed on December 2, after being sentenced for 15 months with an eight month no parole condition.

Thomas Costa, Assistant Secretary Unions NSW, Paul Keating, Maritime Union Australia Sydney branch secretary and Arthur Rorris, Secretary of the South Coast Labor Council were among those to address the rally.

Keating reminded protesters that the MUA Sydney helped environment group Extinction Rebellion close the terminal at Port Botany for four hours on June 10 last year, as part of a national day of action against fossil fuels.

NSW Construction Forest Mining Maritime Energy Union Secretary Darren Greenfield said: “Unions stand with this democracy campaign to free Violet and repeal the anti-protest laws”.

Greenfield spoke about the power of the union and environment movements working together in the historic Green Bans protests that saved many of Sydney’s historic sites.

Veronica Koman from Amnesty International denounced CoCo’s jailing and the imprisonment of environment activists world-wide.

Jay Larbalestier from Fireproof Australia told the rally that CoCo’s jailing “was the judicial system working exactly as intended: protecting the right of those in extractive industries to continue to make obscene profits”.

Ethan Lyons, 16-year-old Wirajduri School Strike for Climate student said: “We had over 100,000 students and supporters striking for climate. These laws won’t deter us; we can do this again.”

Fireproof Australia (FA) listed CoCo’s draconian bail conditions, including that she: reside at a nominated address, not go within 1 kilometre of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and report to police each Wednesday until December 29. She also had to pay $10,000 in surety.

CoCo was held in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre for 11 days.

“I have been imprisoned rather than listened to,” CoCo said. “Despite dire warnings from climate and ecological scientists, our governments are failing to do even the most basic things to protect us from the horror fires and floods that are already happening, and the even worse ones that are coming.

“We are acting to ensure three basic things: that our firies have all the tools that they need to protect us; that we take care of the vulnerable by installing smoke filters in all schools, hospitals and aged care and disability facilities; and that we stand with those already impacted and demand the fair and immediate rehoming of flood and fire survivors.”

FA is campaigning to end the enormous public subsidies being handed to fossil fuel corporations — $22,000 a minute.

BA activists Wenzel Auch and Emma Dorge face court on December 14 and 15.

An open letter condemning the anti-protest laws and supporting the right to disruptive protest has been published by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

[A protest against the NSW anti-protest laws is being organised on December 17 at Sydney Town Hall at 2pm.]

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