The co-founder of Extinction Rebellion has been found guilty of smashing a window during a protest against HS2.
The individual who helped establish Extinction Rebellion has been convicted of committing a crime by causing damage to a window of a government building in a demonstration against the ecological consequences of HS2.
Gail Bradbrook, PhD, was found guilty by a jury in just 45 minutes on Wednesday following a two-day trial at Isleworth Crown Court.
The trial was conducted five years after Extinction Rebellion’s initial acts of civil disobedience in London. The group had declared a state of rebellion in an attempt to bring awareness to the urgent issue of climate change.
Bradbrook expressed her satisfaction with the jury’s decision, stating that when engaging in civil disobedience, one does not anticipate being acquitted. She emphasized that the actions were motivated by a desire to do what is morally right.
Bradbrook expressed her wish that the growing criminalization of climate activists would bring focus to the true culprits behind climate change – those who back the creation and consumption of fossil fuels, which greatly contribute to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
This was the second attempt in this instance. The initial one, which took place in July, was terminated when Bradbrook disobeyed a directive from the judge, Martin Edmunds, to refrain from discussing her reasons.
Bradbrook was instructed to restrict her testimony to the events that occurred during the window-breaking incident and was directed to present her proposed statement to the court for review prior to the retrial.
In the second hearing, Edmunds cautioned Bradbrook that failing to follow his previous decisions could result in being accused of court contempt.
“If you purposefully violate the imposed legal restrictions, you are aware of the potential consequences,” he stated.
Kate Wilkinson, the prosecutor, informed the court that Bradbrook utilized a hammer and chisel to damage a window at the Department for Transport building in London on October 15, 2019, resulting in damages worth £27,660.
She stated that there was no valid justification for this behavior. “Regardless of your admiration for the defendant or your alignment with her beliefs and concern for environmental harm…your responsibility, as sworn, is to render a verdict based on the evidence, not your personal sympathies.”
Edmunds stated that the case did not revolve around the fundamentals of the climate crisis, but rather the act of breaking a window. He advised Bradbrook that a public demonstration was not the appropriate setting for expressing personal opinions.
According to Bradbrook, she thought she could justify breaking the window by claiming it was necessary, a common defense used by activists in court. However, the jury was informed that this defense was not allowed for protesters in recent legal cases.
Although interrupted by the judge multiple times, Bradbrook explained to the jury that she believed it was necessary to disclose the complete truth in order to have a just trial and remain faithful to her sworn commitment of honesty.
Bradbrook did not contest the fact that she shattered the window, but she argued that she should not be labeled as a criminal. While representing herself in court, she emphasized that her actions were non-violent and that she made sure no one was injured.
“I am not a legal professional, but I am a mother to two boys and a trained scientist,” she stated. “As someone who deeply values justice and the preservation of life on our planet, I am committed to ensuring a future for my children.”
As her two sons were young, she discussed how there was increasing recognition and worry about the climate and ecological crises. As a mother, she believed that there were two primary responsibilities: to protect her children and to provide them with a future.
Bradbrook informed the jury that she was inspired to engage in civil disobedience after continuously sending emails to her MP and participating in marches and petitions.
She discussed the increasing worry among the general population about the state of the environment, the government’s acknowledgement of a climate emergency, and former Prime Minister Theresa May’s establishment of a goal to reach net zero emissions in the year following the formation of Extinction Rebellion.
She informed the jury that engaging in civil disobedience is crucial, fair, and successful in bringing about change.
Bradbrook stated that she felt justified by the recent decision made by the government to decrease the size of HS2, as it meant that a forest she used to visit as a child would remain untouched. She also mentioned the recent revelations from the Times about possible fraud within the project.
She stated that she has no remorse for her actions, but was taken aback by the expense of the damage and wishes it could have been lower.
Bradbrook has been granted bail and is awaiting a sentencing hearing in December.