It was a long wait from April 2022 until December and an even longer wait from then until this week for climate activist Violet Coco who was released on a good behaviour bond after being sentenced to 15 months jail in December for blocking the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
On 13 April 2022 Coco blocked one lane of traffic on the Bridge for almost half an hour as part of a protest drawing attention to climate change.
The wake of the protest saw the anti-protest laws constantly in the news and in December 2022, Coco was found guilty of breaking traffic laws and misusing a safety flare and sentenced by Magistrate Allison Hawkins to 15 months in jail.
Released from jail to prepare appeal
Coco was released from jail on bail to prepare her appeal which was heard on Wednesday – it was successful – the judge concluded evidence of an ambulance being blocked at the protest was falsely presented by New South Wales Police.
The two charges for resisting arrest and using a flare as an unauthorised explosive remained on her record.
District Court Judge Mark Williams rejected the Crown’s suggestion Ms Coco was a ‘danger to the community’ owing to her record of protest actions. He set aside the jail term and placed Coco on a 12-month conditional release order. Convictions for two of her charges will remain. Coco’s co-accused Alan Glover, a volunteer firefighter, was released with similar conditions.
Laws unjust and cruel
Greens MP Sue Higginson said the successful appeal by Violet Coco of her prison sentence is a victory and vindication that the laws used to imprison her are unjust and cruel. ‘The personal costs borne by Violet and other peaceful activists like her are extreme.
‘The cost to our democracy is now in full view and we should all be concerned.
‘The NSW Coalition, in lockstep with Labor, created a moral panic in response to climate activist protests and rushed anti-protest laws through the Parliament. Moral panic in response to the fundamental right to protest is dangerous to democracy. It causes unrestrained police and magistrate behaviour and that is what we have experienced. It is straight from a criminology textbook, it is dangerous and it is not the mark of a mature democracy.
Higginson said the Greens will challenge the next Parliament to review and repeal these anti-protest laws. ‘This is to ensure that members of the community who engage in peaceful protest and nonviolent civil disobedience are not sentenced to prison terms.’
Governments across the world did not simultaneously introduce strict anti-protest laws because of Coco. It was about the massive protests from nov-mar in major cities across that planet that had been banned from display on television and social media. NSW govt simply used Coco as an excuse for the legislation that been in development for months. Why would govts suddenly care about climate protests that had been happening for years? I sincerely hope the greens do get rid of those laws as we are having trouble people to the anti-war protests due to the fear and confusion these laws are causing.
This emphatically demonstrates just how sick the country has become.
These people have been put on ‘good behaviour’ bonds after being convicted of exemplary actions that any citizen should be proud of.
It must be noted for comparison the lies of the police, while under oath, uncovered by the investigation, has yet to result in the conviction of these truly criminal types, that make up the bulk of the Rum Corps (AKA NSW Police).
The Lying Police, strike again but nothing ever seems to change.
‘Accused’ going through the Police wringer, it must be some sort of sport so they can fill their days.
Where is Premier Perrottet with his “throw the book at them” magic.