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Over 100 people were arrested at Newcastle port when climate activists failed to end their blockade by the agreed upon deadline.

Over 100 individuals in Newcastle have been charged by the police in New South Wales for obstructing a significant coal port past the designated time.

According to a statement from the NSW police, it will be argued in court that the protesters disregarded warnings and instructions and entered the harbour channel at the Port of Newcastle after the 30-hour blockage was supposed to end.

The police announced on Monday morning that a total of 109 individuals were arrested, consisting of 49 males, 60 females, and five juveniles.

According to the organizers of Rising Tide, the individuals who were taken into custody during the protest included a 97-year-old man who is a minister in the Uniting Church.

Over the weekend, demonstrators rotated in shifts to paddle out into the Port of Newcastle’s shipping lane, causing a 30-hour disruption. Hundreds participated on various watercraft such as kayaks, surfboards, and pontoons.

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Organizers of the event had the goal of preventing coal exports from departing from Newcastle, with the intention of creating the largest act of civil rebellion in Australia’s history.

However, once 4pm on Sunday had passed and the police’s permission for the protest had expired, numerous protesters were still in the water anticipating arrest.

On Monday, authorities verified that 18 individuals were brought to police stations in Newcastle, Waratah, and Toronto, while 86 were transported to a port facility nearby.

“The statement indicated that all of them received court attendance notices for operating a vessel in a way that obstructed others’ use of the waters.”

Two individuals were denied bail and will not attend Newcastle Local Court today, while the rest will have their court date on January 11th of next year.

Five minors were set free and will be handled according to the laws for young offenders, as stated by the police.

Alexa Stuart, the organizer of the protest, stated that the participants on the water ranged in age from 15 to 97 and included students, a coal miner, and her 97-year-old grandfather, who is also a minister at the Uniting Church.

She stated that if the government refuses to address climate change, citizens will resort to civil disobedience.

We regret having to take this action, but it is necessary for the Albanese government to realize our determination.

Rev Stuart claimed that he was fulfilling his responsibilities to both his family and the planet.

He stated that he is taking action for the sake of his grandchildren and future generations. He does not want to leave them a world that is plagued by frequent and severe climate disasters.

The NSW Council of Civil Liberties expressed concern about the arrest of legal observers during the weekend protest.

Volunteers wearing high-visibility clothing, known as legal observers, often attend protests to distribute informational cards, educate individuals on their legal rights, and document any interactions.

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Lydia Shelley, the president of the council, stated that any charges against legal observers should be retracted immediately.

She stated that it is not in the best interest of the public for these charges to move forward.

If the charges are not dropped, it could potentially convey a harmful idea to the public that the NSW police do not support having their interactions or behavior with peaceful protestors monitored by independent organizations. This could also worsen the already faltering relationship between the NSW police and certain segments of our communities.

Demonstrators are calling for the government to halt new coal initiatives and impose a 75% tax on profits from fossil fuel exports in order to support community and industrial changes. They are also demanding compensation for the impacts of climate change.

The organizers stated that after many months of negotiations, the police have approved the protest to occur.

This move has received endorsement from prominent members of the Green party, including its previous national leader, Bob Brown.

On Saturday, Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt joined the protesters by kayaking alongside them and referred to them as heroes.

He stated that they are striving to prevent further floods and bushfires in this nation.

The individuals in this community are aware that we are approaching a critical point in terms of climate change, and that the use of coal and gas is contributing to this crisis.

However, according to CEO Stephen Galilee of the NSW Minerals Council, although individuals have the right to protest, those in charge of organizing the protests must ensure that all participants do so in a safe and lawful manner.

He stated that stopping the export of coal from NSW would greatly affect the state’s economy as the industry currently provides employment for 25,000 individuals.

He stated that coal is the leading export in NSW, bringing in over $70 billion nationwide.

The NSW government relies heavily on coal royalties as a significant source of revenue, generating approximately $3.5 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2022.

Starting in July, the state will see an increase of 2.6 percentage points in revenue from coal sales, resulting in an additional $2.3 billion over the course of the first three years.

Source: theguardian.com