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Climate activists were found guilty of committing criminal damage after they shattered a glass door at the JP Morgan building.
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Climate activists were found guilty of committing criminal damage after they shattered a glass door at the JP Morgan building.

A group of five activists working towards addressing climate change were found guilty of breaking a glass revolving door at the European headquarters of JP Morgan. The judge stated that their reasons for the action did not excuse their actions.

Stephanie Aylett (29), Pamela Bellinger (66), Amy Pritchard (38), Adelheid Russenberger (32), and Rosemary Webster (66) wielded hammers and chisels to create destruction worth “many thousands of pounds” during their participation in the Extinction Rebellion demonstration.

On September 1, 2021, a custom-made revolving door and a large glass panel at the entrance of a US bank’s offices on Victoria Embankment in the City of London were smashed.

During the hearing at Inner London Crown Court, Pritchard stated that JP Morgan’s policies were responsible for the deaths of “hundreds of thousands of children”.

However, during the start of the trial, Judge Silas Reid instructed the jury to set aside any feelings of sympathy or prejudice.

He stated that while individuals may have opinions about the actions or organizations involved, and may also have opinions about climate change, the trial is not regarding climate change itself. Rather, it is a trial specifically dealing with the issue of criminal damage, no more and no less.

After a two-week trial, the five women were found guilty of committing criminal damage. Reid postponed the sentencing until June 7th.

Reid told the jury: “The reasons behind their protests don’t afford them a defence in this case. None of these defendants did these things for the fun of it, or because they are criminal people.

They carried out the action because they genuinely believed it was necessary. However, it is prohibited. This action is considered a criminal offense.

In the legal debate, Reid decided that Aylett and her fellow defendants were allowed to discuss their beliefs about climate change in the presence of the jury.

He stated that Ms Aylett has the right to share her beliefs with the jury and express her thoughts on climate change.

If I have worked with Ms. Aylett before, I would be surprised if the jury does not come to the same conclusion that she truly believes in her views on climate change with complete sincerity.

They have the right to discuss their beliefs about climate change. Their goals must be appropriate.

The degree to which they experience emotions towards something is potentially significant. It is not likely that the defendants will use the witness box to advance any protests.

According to Russenberger’s testimony, protests and direct actions have the power to bring about change. In fact, these tactics have been instrumental in securing the right to vote for those who do not own property.

I reject the claim that the harm inflicted was criminal, as not all damage is deemed criminal. I considered the fact that the board at JP Morgan would undoubtedly be interested in being informed about the events that took place. The prosecution alleged that I had intended to cause harm to the building regardless, but that is not true.

I did not infer that the JP Morgan board members were aware that their actions were incorrect. I broke a window because I thought the board members of JP Morgan would approve of the damage.

The five individuals – Aylett from St Albans, Herts; Bellinger from Leicester; Pritchard from Walthamstow; Russenberger from Richmond-upon-Thames in south-west London; and Webster from Dorchester, Dorset – all denied the charges but were found guilty of committing criminal damage.

Source: theguardian.com