CCA member, the Rev Tim Hewes, was yesterday found guilty of obstruction of the highway at City of London Magistrates Court. Tim sat in the road during the October 2019 Rebellion after he felt ‘utter desperation, distress, with overpowering grief for our beautiful planet.’
Tim spoke of the journey that led him to take this action:
‘I’ve written numerous letters to politicians and church leaders, had meetings with my MP, all prior to going to London on the day I was arrested.
‘My action was to lie down in a street with no traffic in it. I did not glue myself to anything. I was not aggressive or belligerent. I just lay down, in utter desperation, distress, with overpowering grief for our beautiful planet; the planet covered in tarmac, plundered of its limited resources, the deep oceans filled with plastic, biodiversity squandered by a shameful disregard for the integrity and preciousness of all non-human creatures. Forests burned for soya crops to produce industrial beef for big macs, and other forests inhabited by primates, felled for replanting for palm oil production, to make our food and toiletries smoother and “nicer”. So I lay down – enraged.
‘Shortly before I was arrested I heard that the Prime Minister, in reaction to the thousands of people on the streets of London the previous day, had said, “It was only a few old crusties smelling of hemp.” I was appalled that he had, in a slick sound bite, attempted to diminish the heartfelt grief of a vast eclectic group of people.
‘I was instantly enraged, went straight to the corner of Downing Street and lay in the road and shortly afterwards was arrested. This was a spontaneous reaction to a glib comment from the Prime Minister, by which he was attempting to discredit the science of climate chaos and the ecological breakdown, and dismiss valid concerns for the inaction of his government.
Nothing has changed
‘Today – 18 months later – scientists are warning about tipping points and unstoppable feedback loops. The voice of scientists in the UK and across the globe have been disregarded. Sir David Attenborough gets the same treatment. He is listened to, hands are wrung, promises are made and the build back greener shop window titivated, but inside – there is nothing on the shelves.
‘The gap between government green rhetoric and government action appeared unbridgeable when I was arrested 18 months ago and nothing has changed. I cannot understand, why at this time of global crisis, party politics is not put aside for this particular issue. It has happened before for the cross-party 2008 Climate Act. The result was seismic and amazing; something for the whole country to have ownership of and be proud of.
‘My hope and my prayer is that parliament will come to a cross-party agreement on dealing with this issue. The responsibility is now so immense and the result of failure so catastrophic, that surely there can be no other way?
‘Meanwhile, as government rhetoric goes in one direction and government action goes in the other, and while otherwise law-abiding citizens are criminalised, I found myself left with no adequate alternative.’
Tim was given six months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £250 court costs. Speaking afterwards he said, ‘It feels like justice was done. Thank you all for your support.’