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"Green Party legislator denounces likening of Queensland's climate change protests to violent riots at US capitol as extremely offensive and abhorrent."
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“Green Party legislator denounces likening of Queensland’s climate change protests to violent riots at US capitol as extremely offensive and abhorrent.”

One of the 14 environmental activists who protested by displaying banners in Queensland’s parliament has denounced comparisons between their peaceful demonstration and the violent January 6 riots at the US Capitol as “unequivocally offensive.”

The results of Queensland’s parliamentary ethics committee were released on Thursday. They found that Greens MP Michael Berkman did not incite or encourage the Extinction Rebellion protest in November 2022, but his behavior was deemed “disgraceful”.

If found guilty, fourteen individuals ranging in age from 24 to 88 could potentially be sentenced to prison for their brief but noisy demonstration. During the protest, participants displayed banners with messages against fossil fuels while occupying the public gallery of parliament. They disrupted the question period by chanting demands to end the use of fossil fuels and stop the production of coal and gas. This disruption lasted for approximately three minutes.

During an interview with ABC Brisbane, Berkman was surprised to hear that the activists were facing charges for disrupting the legislature during a protest, something that hadn’t happened in over 30 years.

He stated that the costs were “a concerning representation of our current status”, and subsequently shared on social media that the demonstrators were “completely correct”.

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Even though Berkman was found not guilty of contempt, the ethics committee’s report on the event was highly critical of the Greens MP.

“The consequences of glorifying such actions, as seen during the invasion of the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021, can have a detrimental impact on democracy,” stated the committee.

Although it would surely shock the Member, his behavior could be seen as similar to that of Congressmen who rejoiced in the chaos in their own House of Assembly. In truth, his actions were hardly any more commendable. Being naive is not a valid justification.

On Thursday, Berkman expressed his outrage and disgust on social media, likening the situation in Washington to the one being described.

He shared on Twitter that the Committee has described both the protest and his post as “immature”, “disgraceful”, and an “affront to democracy”.

“Backing efforts towards addressing climate change and participating in nonviolent demonstrations should not be seen as optional activities. They are ethical duties that the main political parties have chosen to neglect.”

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One of the demonstrators was Lee Coaldrake, a medical specialist who is wedded to former Vice-Chancellor of Queensland University of Technology Peter Coaldrake. Coaldrake previously headed a 2022 audit of the honesty of the public sector and government in Queensland.

Lee Coaldrake informed Guardian Australia that the conclusions of the committee were yet another effort to vilify climate activists and label them as “radicals.”

She stated that the actions of trying to violently overthrow a legitimately elected government in the United States have no similarity to our actions.

“We were participating in a nonviolent demonstration, which is a core principle of our democratic society.”

“We are not radical, but rather highly rational individuals who are adhering to science – and the implications of science are daunting.”

Our politicians are not responding as quickly and urgently to the scientist’s requests.

Fourteen demonstrators will have to appear in court in July.

Source: theguardian.com