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Byron Shire
January 31, 2023

Coal activist given 12 month jail sentence over Newcastle action

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A 22-year-old coal activist has been sentenced to 12 months jail – six months without parole – for taking nonviolent direct action as part of the Blockade Australia mobilisation in Muloobinba/Newcastle.

Sergieo Herbert was arrested last week after he stopped a coal train for 5 hours by climbing on top of it.

22-year-old Sergieo Herbert has been jailed for at least six months. Image: Blockade Australia

He was then arrested under suspicion the following week on Kooragang Island, walking in the National Park.

He was charged with Assist in Obstruction of Rail Locomotive and Hinder Mining Equipment.

The sentencing magistrate was Janine Lacy, wife of NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham.

Regarding his action, Mr Herbert, said:

‘We’re taking our future back. When the government decides it’s going to destroy its people through ecocide- the people will rise up.

‘This is what real democracy looks like. This is what a real vote means. We all know that Australia’s rigged democracy does not represent us. It is time we take our power back by getting in the way of economic arteries across this continent.’

In the last 2 weeks activists have been given charges that carry 25 year sentences.

Blockade Australia said Mr Herbert’s action was taken to oppose the role Australia plays in the climate and ecological crisis.

‘This response from the legal system only further exposes Australia as a deliberately designed racket that is intent on self-preservation and the protection of the ruling class.’

‘Without people like Sergeio who push back against state repression and harsh application of the law, the state will continue to punish people without accountability or consequence.’

The decision comes after Blockade Australia completed two weeks of nonviolent direct action at the massive coal port in Newcastle.

Over 10 days, 28 people were arrested with 65+ hours of sustained blocking of coal operations.

The collective is calling for supporters to participate in mass, disruptive action in Sydney next year June 27 – July 2nd.

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  1. Why the need for “non violent action” in your reporting !? It tends to imply that the perpetrator should be treated leniently. Embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, internet scams etc are all “nonviolent” but cause harm, with financial and emotional distress to others.
    Your use of words sometimes betrays your bias.

    • Industrial capitalism is violent, the accumulation of wealth to few elite while the rest of the world is left to face an uninhabitable planet is violent. Sergieo didn’t even damage the train- he stood on a train to draw attention to the world that he wants to have a future and now he is going to PRISON. The system is literally removing him from society for using his body to communicate a message they don’t want to be shared. Have a serious think about that.

    • Chris, your use of ‘perpetrator’ here displays your own bias.

      Who is harmed, even financially or emotionally, by someone slowing ever so slightly the ongoing destruction of planetary liveability perpetrated by huge soulless mining companies, by someone climbing on a train?

      I doubt Sergieo’s sentence would survive appeal, perhaps even the conviction, but if people have to make personal sacrifices for the planet’s sake, they will.

    • I would see this as particularly pertinent, as it goes to demonstrate the crooked nature of this country’s systemic bias, designed to pillage for profit and position.
      Cheers, G”)

  2. This country desperately needs a Bill of Rights. While we are still operating under convict law, the government can basically do what it wants. As our state premiers seem more and more insane, things are not looking good for Australia.

    RIP democracy.

  3. YES Chris Hill this brave soul ( Mr Herbert ) should be not only treated lightly but as a national hero, IF we had a functional democracy Hello???? We can see your bias here & NOT The ECho’s. I am furious & outraged that a individual taking NON VIOLENT action , against a coal train should be sentenced to jail WTF ?? When did we become Beijing ? Did this happen when I slept ? The magistrate was Latham’s wife OMG , who set this up ? HOW WOULD MR HERBERT EVER GET A FAIR ‘TRIAL’ ? He acted with intelligence & a desire to draw attention to a rather ‘small” issue here……. OUR PLANET IS ON FIRE. WE HAVE ALREADY REACHED OVER 1.5 TEMP INCREASE IN SOME REGIONS & THIS HAPPENED ON OUR OWN NATION ON THE EAST & STH COAST JUST LAST YEAR. Glasgow also sadly looks like a talk fest with few of the major contributing Co2 emitters there. THE Americans are finally taking serious climate action due to the fact that Trump lost. BUT THE IDIOT WILL BE BACK NARCISSISTS NEVER ACCEPT DEFEAT. So this courageous/informed & impassioned young man (Mr Herbert) will be thrown into jail for a peaceful protest which was an attempt to draw media attention to the dire situation our planet is in, happens to get a Magistrate with an axe to grind. OMG DEMOCRACY IS DEAD. Why did this happen , when violent /self interested and dangerous right wingers can rage through Melbourne streets calling for the death of the Premier & erecting a gallows & NOTHING HAPPENS ? In fact SCOMO then comes out and defends them on the grounds of frustration? Well I like many other thousands of people have protested peacefully for a plethora of ecological issues & man I’m frustrated.We have fought valiantly/peacefully for decades for our long suffering wildlife /for our native forests /for First Nations Rights/ for Gay Rights / for Refugee Rights etc and yet SCOMO OR TURNBULL OR ABBOTT OR HOWARD ( HOW FAR DO I NEED TO GO BACK ? ) has ever come out & given a modicum of support or understanding for our PEACEFUL FRUSTRATION ? Why is this so…..I know the answer tragically. We must all fight for the release of Mr Herbert & nominate him for an Australian of the Year Award.

    • WOW !,
      Well put Lindy. As a favourite mentor of mine,
      Daria, often comments ” it’s a sick, sad World”.
      Why is it when so many of us have demonstrated our desire for a better existence and greater emphasis Quality of life, ‘ the system ‘ fights it with every fibre of of it’s ugly, corrupt being ?

  4. Stood on coal train last week, 12 month sentence this week. Rape in parliament last year, court case slotted next year.
    Move on. Nothing to see here.

  5. I think that while the environment movement continues to engage in gross hypocrisy – doing such things as continuing to fly planes and generally have high personal carbon footprints quite often – so therefore can’t lead change by the people, this type of action is bound to fail anyway. This makes it so sad to see this young man go to jail in his desperation to try to stop the destruction of humanity, possibly/probably too young to have developed an understanding that the environment movement will continue to fail until it comes to terms with the facts of human psychology: that the environment movement must actually BE the change that it wants to see in the world (which means focus on addressing food insecurity on a warming planet, first and foremost).

    Can the Echo please follow up this article with contact with this young man and offer him the opportunity to share a correspondence contact with the community so he can be kept in contact to ensure he is supported through his coming ordeal.

    The community owes him that opportunity

  6. Absolutely criminal, a young person’s life can be taken away and put behind bars because he showed the courage to stand up and try to reclaim a future that seems dead to many of us who are young. That the court system, police system and governments prioritise the profit accumulation by billionaire mining multi-nationals who are driving organised life on Earth quickly toward extinction over the rights of young people and future generations to have a habitable world to live in a direct demonstration that these systems cannot be relied on to come to aid. And this, is exactly what Sergieo was saying to the world when he shut down the world’s largest coal port. Thank you Sergieo.
    You can donate to Sergieo’s legal costs, and other activists that may be facing similar sentencing from the 11 days of actions here:

  7. Civil disobedience is not a first resort action. When the state is captured by the vested interests, the science is unequivocal, and thirty years of voting, letter writing, marching, protesting, tree hugging, working and being a solid citizen has failed the direct action becomes the only option. The IEA has told us that coal needs to shut down, methane is rapidly heating the planet, the earth is heating at a rate that is a “code red” for humanity.
    Well done Sergeio and Thanks for your action. Its sad that it is necessary. Good to hear you’re on bail.


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