Civil Resistance in Prison

Eight woman have started a regime of non-compliance in Prison

For allegedly glueing on in court last week Michelle Charlesworth has been summoned to appear before the Governor of Foston Hall prison today, where she faces potential sanctions.  The prison is accusing Michelle of interfering with the duties of their officers, even though the glue-on happened at the end of a court hearing and was dealt with by police officers.

   In solidarity, seven other female Just Stop Oil supporters at Foston Hall have started practising non-violent non-compliance with the prison authorities. At the end of their time in the exercise yard yesterday, all eight women sat in a line by a fence, went floppy and refused to move.

Despite the protest being peaceful, staff responded as if the prisoners had been violent. Their arms were forcibly twisted behind their backs, their hands cuffed and their necks bent downwards with considerable force. One by one they were carried back to their cells. One of the resistors, Lucia Whittaker reports being forced to walk sideways at one point while her neck was forced downwards, she says.

“we were treated as if we had been aggressive or violent. The prison seems to have no awareness of how to respond to political prisoners or those who are acting peacefully. It was the scariest protest I have ever done, but we are not standing by while the climate catastrophe spirals out of control and one of us is unjustifiably facing an adjudication procedure alone. We came in as a collective and now we will continue nonviolent resistance as a collective until our demands are met.”

 Most sustained some injuries and were subsequently attended by prison medical staff. The eight woman are seeking a meeting with the Prison Governor, demanding that they  – 

·       Drop the adjudication procedure against Michelle Charlesworth

·       Declare a climate and ecological emergency (CEE) and act upon it

·       Educate staff and prisoners about the CEE

·       Build support networks within the prison to help inmates and staff deal with mental health implications of CEE fallout.

·       Reduce the climate and ecological impact of the prison estate

·       Prepare for climate impacts such as heat waves within the prison estate.

Today is Michelle’s birthday, the other women made her bunting and a hat, and a card from news cuttings.

The eight women in prison are being held on remand for breaking the private Kingsbury injunction. They are due in Birmingham County Court on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, where they face up to 2 years in prison and unlimited fines. They are more afraid of the horrific consequences of climate breakdown than they are of the state.

Sarah Webb, a Special Needs Teacher said, from HMP Foston Hall: 

“We collectively felt the need to disrupt and resist.  This is part of an injustice system that would rather imprison peaceful protestors than address the climate and ecological emergency”

On May 5th the eight women, with 3 men, joined three peaceful Insulate Britain [1] supporters who are currently serving prison terms, one for spray painting ‘Insulate Britain’ in washable chalk spray on the outside wall of a court [2].

Meanwhile in Glasgow a 26 year old environmental scientist and supporter of Just Stop Oil in Scotland was arrested at her home this morning, a day after she took part in a peaceful march through Central Glasgow on the 8th of May. She was released under conditions that she does not  “attend, authorise or participate in any authorised or unauthorised protests or processions in Scotland”.