Just Stop Oil calls for an end to arrest and imprisonment of protesters

·3-min read

Just Stop Oil has called for police and courts to stop arresting and jailing protesters.

In a statement published on New Year’s Eve, the climate change campaign group said that officers and members of the judiciary who arrest and imprison protesters are working for “power and profit”.

Just Stop Oil (JSO) was formed in February this year with the aim of forcing the Government to end all new licences for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

The group made headlines for climate demonstrations which caused traffic jams for miles on major motorways, disruption to major events including the Baftas, and damage to famous artworks.

Just Stop Oil protest
Two protesters threw tinned soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s 1888 work Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London (Just Stop Oil/PA)

JSO said: “If you work in the police or the judiciary, you too must break the silence.

“You don’t have to arrest brave students and pensioners. You don’t have to lock up these courageous, skilled, loving members of society.

“If you choose to do that, know what you’re doing. You’re working for death, not life. For power and profit, not care and reason. Is that what you want your life’s legacy to be?”

More than 2,000 arrests have been made during JSO protests and 138 activists have been held behind bars either awaiting trial or while serving a sentence this year, according to the group.

“At the end of the year, 12 are still inside,” they said.

Just Stop Oil protest
Police officers deal with activists from Just Stop Oil during their protest outside Harrods department store in Knightsbridge, London in October (Ian West/PA)

JSO added that people have a “legal right” to protect themselves under British Law.

“This is not about polar bears and puffins, it’s about who gets to eat and how we will survive.

“Under British law, people have a legal right to protect themselves, to protect the legacy of their ancestors who came before them and to protect the common inheritance of the people yet to come.”

The group insisted it will not be deterred by the new policing powers, introduced by the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill, that make it easier for those causing disruption to be arrested and sentenced.

Members believe that increasing numbers of people will join their movement as the climate crisis worsens.

Activist Indigo Rumbelow, 28, from Swansea, said that the group is “not here to be popular” but instead acts as an often unwelcome “fire alarm” alerting the public to impending danger.

She added: “We will be continuing mobilising, we are going to be continuing with our disruption, and continuing our campaign into a force that is strong enough that will force the Government to concede to our campaign.

“As the climate crisis stops being something that people read about and starts being something that’s impacting their lives, more and more people will join us as the problem gets worse and worse.”