In a Queensland first, three climate protesters have been refused bail in a Brisbane magistrate court on the evening of December 4.
Two Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters, known as ‘Spoon’ and ‘Jack’, successfully stopped all coal from entering Brisbane Coal Port for over an hour by standing on top of a train in Wynnum on Wednesday December 4.
Both were charged with trespass and obstruction of a railway, but only Jack was also charged with the serious assault of a police officer.
It is the third time this year that Queensland police have charged XR protesters seriously assaulting police officers.
Challenging the norm
Max Curmin, a spokesperson for XR said that the Queensland government had been taking a more hardline approach to climate protesters.
‘They’re trying to make an example out of these people to stop people fighting for a safe future,’ said Mr Curmin.
‘As negative as this is, this is the sort of thing that happens when you start to challenge the power of the establishment.’
Refusal of bail
Emma, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, was charged with both trespass and obstruction of a railway.
Questions have been raised about the validity of the refusal of her bail as her charges were so minor they could be punishable by a fine.
The three are being held in remand at Brisbane Watch House until they appear in court via video link, on December 19.
This means they will be incarcerated for at least three weeks.
The effects of new protest legislation
This unprecedented decision comes after controversial protest laws were swiftly moved through Queensland parliament at the end of October which criminalised ‘locking devices’ and expanded police powers to search suspects.
Member for Maiwar and the first Greens representative elected to the Queensland Parliament, Michael Berkman, was the only member of parliament to vote against the introduction of these new protesting laws.
According to Mr Berkman, the political discourse around the anti-protest laws is ‘feeding into the way police are trumping up charges and bringing a really heavy handed approach to this.
‘To now see that the discourse has shifted so that police decisions and court decisions are actually appearing to be affected by the politics is really shocking and I think a scary reality for us,’ said Mr Berkman.
‘By cracking down on particular groups protesting there is actually a real risk of creating greater division.’
Extinction Rebellion held a rally on 5 December to show support for and stand in solidarity with the jailed activists. Over 200 people attended the rally.