A gang of fossil fuel activists in the United Kingdom avoided prison following the group’s decision to tether themselves to barriers at Britain’s Heathrow Airport.
The group, nicknamed “Heathrow 13” by the media, was given a 12-month suspended sentence, meaning they will only serve a sentence if they violate the law within a year.
The activists — six men and seven women, one of whom dawned a polar bear outfit — were found guilty in January of trespassing and entering a security-restricted area.
During the sentencing process, District Judge Deborah Wright told them they should expect a prison sentence.
“It was very clear your stated intention was to cause as much disruption as possible. You have achieved your aim,” Wright said, noting further that 25 flights were cancelled and “each and every one of those people who had their journeys disrupted was a victim of your actions.”
Still, group members and supporters praised the light sentence, calling its a win for democracy.
“I’m so relieved. It’s a triumph for democracy, a triumph for the movement,” Danielle Paffard, one of the members of the group, told reporters Thursday.
She struck a defiant tone after sentencing.
“As a result of today’s sentencing there will be plenty more people prepared to go out and cut the perimeter fence,” she added.
“Clearly, none of us would choose to go to jail, but this shouldn’t be singled out as the main ‘injustice,’” a statement made Tuesday from the group reads. “Climate change is the real injustice, with the majority of the world’s population, those in the global south, being the ones who continue to be most affected.”
The statement continues to say the Heathrow Airport cannot be allowed to expand.
“The science is clear … there can be no new runways in the UK if we are to take climate change seriously.”
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