Bellingen Protesters Support Jailed Activist

Bellingen locals support Sergio. Photo: Newry Forest Blockade


ALMOST fifty Bellingen locals gathered at Maam Gaduying Meeting Place Park in Bellingen last week to protest the jailing of a protester in Newcastle.

On Tuesday 23 November 2021, 22-year-old climate activist Eric Serge Herbert (Sergio) was sentenced to twelve month’s imprisonment, six months no parole, for disrupting coal trains entering the port of Newcastle.

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Sergio was granted bail on 25 November and is pending appeal of his twelve month sentence.

Mr Herbert had been charged with obstruction to a railway locomotive or rolling stock, attempted hinder working of mining equipment and attempted assist in obstruction of rail locomotive or rolling stock.

He was also fined $200 for remaining on enclosed land without a lawful excuse.

Mr Herbert has previous convictions for similar offences.

The protesters gathered at short notice to support Mr Herbert and to express their deep concerns for the future of climate activism during a climate emergency.

They heard from a number of local elected representatives and climate activists.

All expressed concerns about Mr Herbert’s imprisonment and what that could now mean for all climate activists, including many local protesters.

Tom Howell, who spoke at the event, said,”The government of Australia would rather see young people in jail than allow a small loss to major fossil fuel industry.

“It’s blatantly obvious who they actually serve.”

Mr Howell said peaceful climate activists should be celebrated as heroes, not criminalised by corrupt governments and that key decision makers in state and federal government who continue to allow the extraction of coal are the real criminals.

He said that front line direct action was the last resort in a climate emergency where elected governments continue to support and subsidise fossil fuel industries with taxpayers dollars.

Over ten days of protesting at the Newcastle coal port, over 28 people have been arrested with more than 65 hours of sustained blocking of coal operations.

Northern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna, said police will continue to target, identify and charge protestors as a priority.

“The actions of this group and individuals involved are placing lives at risk.

“Illegally entering rail corridors and expecting trains that are over 1.5km in length to stop for people placing themselves in front of them is outrageous and incredibly dangerous behaviour.

“We will continue to use the full force of the law to locate and arrest any persons involved in this criminal activity,” Assistant Commissioner McKenna said.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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