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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Take action against 15 months jail for climate protester

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Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco being arrested.

Northern Rivers locals are gathering in Lismore this Saturday to protest the imprisonment of non-violent climate activist Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco who stopped one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April. Saturday is the 75th UN International Human Rights Day and people are gathering from 10.30am until midday at the Peace Park in Ballina Road, Lismore on Widjabul Wiyabul Country to raise their concerns about the use of NSW government’s new anti-protest legislation, passed with the support of the Labor opposition.

Firefighters at the Wardell fire front on November 8, 2019. Photo Ewan Willis.

Rehoming fire and flood victims

Violet had joined her firefighter friend to raise awareness about climate change and the fact that firefighters need more resources to deal with increasing risks of ‘unprecedented’ fires like the Blanck Summer fires that are a result of climate warming.

Recorded just before Violet’s sentencing she explained that she took the action ‘because our firefighters don’t have what they need to protect us… I wanted to demonstrate the urgency of the situation we are in. 

House in North Lismore with rising floodwaters, 30 March 2022. Photo Adam Guise.

‘All around the world people are suffering from the results of climate breakdown. We need to act as if it is an emergency and to mobilise and organise to demand that the $22,000 a minute goes toward a just transition.’

The road-blocking was part of a Fireproof Australia protest calling on the federal government to respond urgently to the climate crisis by rehoming the survivors of floods and fires and securing an Australian-owned large aerial tanker fleet.

Deanna ‘Violet’ Coco.

8 months non-parole

The incredible eight months non-parole period and failure to allow bail pending an appeal in March next year have been labled as ‘disproportionate’ by human rights advocates. Clément Voule, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, said over the weekend that he was ‘alarmed’ by the sentence and the court’s refusal to consider bail for her appeal until March.

Rallies have been occurring around the country to protest the harsh sentence, including last Monday’s protest outside Janelle Saffin’s temporary office in Lismore.

According to Crikey NSW ‘Premier Dominic Perrottet weirdly called her [sentence]  “pleasing to see”. [Violet’s uncle NSW Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Alister Henskens] added approvingly that he believes in lawful, peaceful protests – ones that nobody notices and which affect nobody, one presumes.’

Crushing dissent 

Canberra rally speaker and Green Institute executive director Tim Hollo said Ms Coco’s sentence was a ‘window into how our system is going into high gear to defend the right to suck the planet dry for profit.’

‘We all need to use our democratic rights to call for Violet to be freed and to start building a real democracy that works for people and planet,’ he said.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Miriam Robinson said governments across Australia were trying to crush dissent by making an example of protesters rather than dealing with the concerns of citizens.

‘It will be bewildering to future historians that governments chose to protect the polluters against the health and wellbeing of an entire planet and the potential end of civilisation as we know it,’ she said.

‘Blocking a road for half an hour will seem to be the least that people could do. History will be the judge and it will not be kind to the NSW government.’

According to Crikey who published Coco’s statement about her imprisonment ‘she wrote that “civil disobedience in the form of strikes, blockades, marches and occupations” helped create democracy and secure “women’s suffrage, eight-hour working days, racial legal equality and environmental protections”. Coco says she doesn’t want to protest, calling it “stressful”, “scary” and “resource-intensive” but “political leaders and fossil fuel corporations around the globe have either ignored or actively worsened the problem”. She’s right, according to the IEA — CO2 emissions rose by 6% to 36.3 billion tonnes in 2021, their highest level. Coco also alleged the police had “threatened me with sexual violence” after her arrest.’

You can assist Coco by donating to the ‘Get Violet Out Of Prison‘ campaign.

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  1. Democracy is in the safe hands of Dom Perrottet and Chris Minns, NOT.
    A lane of traffic gets delayed for a bit which somehow “threatens our way of life” according to Premier Dom Dom.
    So lets talk about threats to our way of life, which Premier Dom Dom has plenty of experience seeing with all of his visits to climate catastrophe ravaged communities across the Disaster State of NSW.
    Best not address the REAL issue, just jail the heroes taking a stand and sending the message loud and clear.
    It is an abomination that non-violent protests can land in jail for 2 years but that’s the go with the Dom and Chris Show. Piss-weak leaders, correction if I may, they ain’t leaders, they just… Piss weak.

    • One of the many funny things about lefties is the way they pretend they can’t see reality, even when staring them right in the face, and continue to proclaim their nonsense.

      • Sparky, what reality of cascading climate catastrophies did you miss, from National Bushfire Catastrophe of 2019/20 to rolling and record Flood Disaster of 2022.
        And the best that the likes of the Perrottet and the Minns can come up with in responding to the climate hero protestors is…Jailtime!
        Climate Change is existential threat, or as the Perrottet likes to put things, “threatens our way of life”.
        Homes and property destroyed, lives lost, we’ve had it in spades, that’s what you call, “threatens our way of life”.
        Squawking about a lane of traffic on the Harbour Bridge that is blocked for 25 minutes is laughable but it is totally intentional, to divert and distract from the REAL issue.

  2. Interestingly, this article is somewhat light-on with specifics, making it more difficult to research *the facts*, which are:
    It would appear the timing and site of the protest were carefully chosen – at the critical left-hand southbound lane of the bridge that veers off to the city and eastern suburbs, at around 8.20AM (i.e. at the height of peak hour at a critical location). In other words a time and location to cause absolute maximum chaos to commuters.

    Has anybody sympathising with Ms Coco experienced the peak hour disaster of the daily Harbour Bridge commute even without such stunts – not withstanding the undoubted (and definitely unchallenged) worthiness of the cause?

    And insofar as “blocking a road for half an hour” perhaps could have been elaborated upon with something along the lines of “despite the protestors’ best efforts to try to extend the blockage a bloody sight longer by gluing themselves to the road in front of a Pantech truck (maximising the difficulty in moving the blockage).

    There is no doubting the good intentions (and legitimacy of cause) of the protestors, but to make commuters take the brunt of the impact is not only selfish, but probably counter-productive. I wonder how many of the tens of thousands directly impacted would have been singing the praises of Ms Coco, especially this was one of multiple similar protests taking place prior to this one, and were the rationale for introducing harsher penalties?

    And bear in mind, a 30 minute road blockage, even for a simple traffic accident, invariably blows out to a much, much longer delay before traffic resumes its normal, peak hour crawl.

    And insofar as “‘she wrote that “civil disobedience in the form of strikes, blockades, marches and occupations” helped create democracy and secure “women’s suffrage, eight-hour working days, racial legal equality and environmental protections”” I am not in a position to recall the women’s suffrage protests, but I do definitely recall the large anti-Vietnam-war protests in Brisbane back in the day, which garnered
    nowhere near the antipathy of Ms Coco’s action. But these were held around King George Square, with a much lesser impact on commuters than, say, if they were held with the intention of blocking the Storey Bridge.

    Again, Ms Coco’s actions, as well-intentioned as they were, almost certainly did more harm than good with the commuters that day, as well as commuters all around Sydney and probably other capital cities.

  3. Tragically, ruling Federal and state govs have been running a purge of all things relating to human induced climate change for a long time to the benefit of polluters and their push to keep the ‘business as usual’ agenda. Over the last 20 years we have seen all sort of purges in academia and in federal departments like the Antarctic research etc. There has been a pretty successful climate play down in all media — even our ABC . And now, on to everyday concerned members of the public who are totally flabbergasted that the gov is treating climate, environment and resource issues like they were some marginal beat up. Every sane person needs to upport Deanna!

  4. Brittany Higgins’ alleged rapist gets off scott free due to reprehensible laws, but a person who’s trying to stop the world being raped gets a hefty prison sentence for blocking one lane of a road for half an hour?

  5. Disgusting the way the N S W government is treating a peaceful protestor , are we a police state and have no rights and no say anymore. and hermit are you for real.

  6. With the CSIRO Bi-annual report on the state of the climate telling us that the combined Green House gases (CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide) give a CO2 equivalent of 516 ppm in the atmosphere, our Liberal and Labor political leaders response is to gloat about jailing activists for bringing it to our attention.

  7. Did you know this was Coco’s third (3rd) time of being arrested for similar Demos ?
    E-Reb has cost our Community $$ millions and actually has added to pollution via their antics.
    So, three strikes and you’re….in jail.
    If she wanted to be a martyr – that’s perhaps where she wanted to be anyway ?
    Seems fair.

  8. The NSW Government is right out of step in relation to the jailing of Deanna ‘Violet” Coco for non-violent direct action; relating to Climate Change and the lack of political will, resources and concern for sentient beings. The mere fact that the judiciary and the Executive are ‘in step’ with this vile incarceration indicates the perilous state of Australian Democracy, which is defined by the separation of power of both the Judiciary and the Executive. Furthermore, we are to witness the Police State threatening Violet with sexual violence! Therein lies the real crime by an Authoritarian State hell bent on violence. No doubt all of this is sanctioned by the Fossil Fuel Industry. Big struggles ahead for Australian Democracy and conscious citizens. A new chapter in the history of Democracy. Stay strong Violet. Rise up folks. Such violence should never be tolerated.

  9. Just what is Perrottet religious fundamentalist faction capable of enforcing if given the numbers to do so? Not that long ago his Liberal Party Catholic fundamentalist faction banned anyone wearing certain T-Shirts calling out the protection of pedophiles in his church and had people arrested for wearing them when the Pope, the leader of his church was in Sydney? If you want to get rid of these aggressive militant religious fundamentalists and their contrived “Freedom of Religion” ACL branch stacking the LNP, the March NSW election, will be the time to do just that!

    • Yeah Tweed, as long as you don’t vote Labor instead; they support this vile authoritarianism just the same, and it’s all about money and power trumping care fir what’s left of the ecology.

      “Not quite as bad as the COALition” is nothing like good enough. It’s still primitive hierarchical thinking either way. Rise up or be crushed.

  10. A lot of attention to Climate protests inconveniencing People.. Climate change is here .. our Politicians protect the billionaires who continue to profit from the industries that fuel climate change..
    Lismore just flooded in the biggest flood in living memory.. most agree this was an event turbo charged by Climate change.. my Home went completely underwater as did most of the Town.. 5 People lost their life.. the roads were blocked for days if not weeks..

    This was a massive inconvenience that is ongoing today .. 10 months later.

    I would like to see the mining executives and the politicians that support them jailed .. their actions inconvenience us all and threatens our way of life

    Also Its never “ pleasing to see” a young person jailed for any reason.. seeing a non violent well intentioned person Jailed is far from pleasing..perrottet takes pleasure in seeing Violet jailed ?? Sick beyond belief


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