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Reform Magazine | June 25, 2019

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I am… on trial for climate protest

I am… on trial for climate protest

Phil Kingston is on trial for climate protest at 83

I am 83 years old and a grandfather. On 25 April, I was arrested for taking part in a protest with Christian Climate Action (CCA) on top of a DLR train in London. The plea hearing will be at Blackfriars Crown Court on 23 May, when our barrister and the judge will discuss what kind of defence we will be allowed to use. Until then, I’m on curfew and banned from being in London.

I was also involved in November’s Extinction Rebellion in London with CCA, and was arrested on four occasions, twice for criminal damage. The idea of criminal damage upsets many people, and I understand that – it was writing ‘Act now’ on the road outside Downing Street, with a chalk-based spray.

I knew before my grandchildren were born that the destruction of the earth was happening. I was very concerned about what they were coming into, so I did a lot of learning about the situation and the complete complicity of government, media and businesses. That was a huge shock and disappointment.

Then, eight years ago, I was meeting with other grandparents and we realised we were all singing from the same song sheet. We had been campaigning for years, writing letters and speaking with MPs, and it was a sheer waste of time. So we set up a group called Grandparents for a Safe Earth. We agreed to use nonviolent direct action (nonviolent as far as persons were concerned) and, if necessary, civil disobedience, and that all our words and deeds would be peaceful, respecting people’s dignity.

We occupied three banks. At one we were arrested, taken outside and dearrested. I’d never heard of that before – it was a method of getting us out of the way. As grandparents, we realised we had immense social power…

Phil Kingston is a member of Christian Climate Action. He was talking to Stephen Tomkins

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2019 edition of Reform

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