NSWCCL Statement: Peaceful protest should never result in gaol!

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is shocked to hear that Violet Coco, a Fireproof Australia protestor, was sentenced to 15 months in custody with a non parole period of 8 months for engaging in peaceful protest.

We understand that she was charged with offences of disrupting vehicles, interfering with the safe operation of the Harbour Bridge, possessing a bright light distress signal in a public place, failing to comply with police direction and resisting or hindering police. All of these charges arose from her blocking one lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for approximately 25 minutes.

'Peaceful protest should never result in gaol time', President, Josh Pallas said, 'it's outrageous that the state wastes its resources seeking gaol time and housing peaceful protestors in custody at the expense of taxpayers. Protestors from Fireproof Australia and other groups have engaged in peaceful protest in support of stronger action on climate change, a proposition that is widely supported by many Australians across the political divide and now finding themselves ending up in prison. Peaceful protest sometimes involves inconvenience to the public.  But inconvenience is not a sufficient reason to prohibit it.  It's immoral and unjust.'

'This state's ongoing repression of protestors through parliament passing harsher laws, police seeking draconian bail conditions and surveilling protestors and prosecutors seeking custodial sentences shows just how much contempt this government holds for protestors and the environment. The repression of peaceful protestors must end', Pallas said.

'I wish I could say that I have high hopes if the government changes next year, but all signs from the Opposition so far show that they will deliver more of the same. Peaceful protest should not be a crime, anti protest laws must be repealed, and people engaged in peaceful protest should never be sentenced to gaol.'