Spain ‘arrests protesting climate scientists’ amid earliest summer heatwave in history

·3-min read
Scientists poured red dye over the front of the Congress building in Madrid in April to highlight global inaction on the climate crisis (Extinction Rebellion)
Scientists poured red dye over the front of the Congress building in Madrid in April to highlight global inaction on the climate crisis (Extinction Rebellion)

Scientists in Spain who took to the streets in April to protest lack of action on the worsening climate crisis have reportedly been summoned to Spanish police stations this week, with at least ten activists arrested.

During the protests, which were part of a broader demonstration by thousands of scientists around the world to highlight "the urgency and injustice of the climate and ecological crisis", civil disobedience actions included spraying the facade of the national congress building in Madrid with red paint.

According to an article in newspaper El Periodico, a dozen Spanish scientists were called in to speak to police to answer for their role in the civil disobedience campaign.

The article said the protesters included professors, researchers, doctors, regular members of Spain’s Higher Council for Scientific Research and members of the panel of experts on Climate Change for the UN, who took action to "denounce the criminal climate inaction of successive governments in recent decades".

According to Scientist Rebellion – a sister organisation to Extinction Rebellion – those arrested were charged with criminal damage.

A spokesperson for the organisation told The Independent: "Yesterday, more than 10 scientists and activists of Scientist Rebellion were arrested in a very irregular procedure, some of them spending several hours in police custody. They were all charged with criminal damage and "attack to the state institutions" for their non-violent action in April, that consisted in throwing dyed water to the facade of Congress. The stains were removed in half an hour."

They added: "The second charge relates to the claim that the parliamentary session was interrupted due to the action, a fact that several Spanish politicians have already denied."

Scientist Rebellion said the police in Spain are using "authoritarian" tactics and "trying to intimidate our activists".

In a Twitter post, the group said: "Yesterday, Spanish police phoned up fellow scientists who participated in our global mobilisation in April, asking them to report to the police station this morning.

"As this was not a formal procedure, some of our activists decided not to go."

One of the arrested scientists, Mauricio Misquero, wrote on Twitter: "They have kept me in jail for seven hours, because according to them I am the organiser of the action on April 6 for carrying the megaphone and crying my eyes out."

He added: "This summer we are going to exceed 50 degrees."

Following the demonstrations back in April, Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion lab who recently joined Scientist Rebellion and also got arrested during the April civil disobedience campaign, in which he chained himself to the doors of the JP Morgan Chase building, explained why scientists are taking action.

He said: "We need a billion climate activists. I encourage everyone to consider where we’re heading as a species, and to engage in civil disobedience and other actions.

The time is now. We’ve waited far too long. Mobilise, mobilise, and mobilise. Mobilise before we lose everything."

The police action comes as Spain faces a deadly heatwave, set to worsen this week with temperatures forecast to approach 50C.

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