Greta Thunberg entered a plea of not guilty for allegedly violating public order during a protest in the United Kingdom.
Greta Thunberg denies charges of violating a public order law by obstructing the entrance to a hotel where a conference, known as the “Oscars of oil” by activists, was being held.
Last month, a 20-year-old activist from Sweden participated in a demonstration outside the location of the Energy Intelligence Forum. The protest involved blocking the hotel entrance and chanting, “Oily money out!” The activist was charged with violating section 14 of the Public Order Act, which could result in a fine of up to £2,500.
Greenpeace activists showed their support for Thunberg and the other demonstrators on Wednesday, displaying banners outside the central London court where she pleaded.
She was one of 29 arrested during the protest, which aimed to stop delegates entering the InterContinental London Park Lane in Mayfair. Thunberg and dozens of demonstrators had locked arms to obstruct the entrances of the hotel.
Thunberg was taken into custody when law enforcement intervened to relocate demonstrators from the street to the sidewalk. A video captured her being escorted into a police vehicle. She has faced arrests or removals from demonstrations in Sweden, Norway, and Germany as well.
Fossil Free London, along with environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, coordinated the demonstration.
The Shell chief executive, Wael Sawan, gave a keynote speech at the conference through a video call instead of attending in person, which activists have taken credit for.
Maja Darlington, an advocate for Greenpeace UK, stated that their activists participated in the protest to convey a peaceful message to the oil executives attending the conference: the large oil companies must be held accountable for the harm they are inflicting on our planet and its inhabitants. The detentions of Greta and other nonviolent demonstrators are another instance of the government’s concerning suppression of peaceful protests, which is a fundamental right in any democratic society that is free and operating effectively.
“Individuals are tired of witnessing their leaders support their friends in the fossil fuel sector, as prices continue to increase and extreme weather causes chaos globally. Rather than punishing those who oppose the fossil fuel industry, the UK government should hold polluters accountable for the millions of lives and livelihoods lost due to the industry’s pursuit of profit.”
The UK government and law enforcement have been taking stricter measures against climate activists. The recently passed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act of 2022 granted the government more authority to classify activism as a crime, including the ability for police to prohibit non-violent protests deemed too loud or disruptive.
The consequences for impeding the highway, a common strategy used by environmental activists, have been raised to potentially limitless monetary penalties and six months imprisonment, regardless of whether the authorities have already shut down the road.