Statement of Defence used in Exeter Magistrates Courts 29/1/19

Statement from Matthew Tehanu who on 29th January appeared at Exeter Magistrates Courts over his defacing of the Exeter branch of Barclays bank on 2nd January of this year, with the slogan ‘Frack Off’ and the ‘#XR’ hashtag.


‘The magistrates and court officials gave me plenty of time to explain and justify my actions, for which I am grateful. I strongly hope that this information will inspire XR activists who are considering arrestable direct action. Winning the hearts and minds of magistrates and court officials could be a key element of our peaceful fight, as we increase the intensity and frequency of arrests over the coming months to address global governmental inaction on the accelerating sixth mass extinction event on Earth.
The following is a slightly adapted and extended version of the defence I gave in court. I refused legal representation:
1) Whilst admitting the offence of criminal damage, Barclays commits the greater crime by their investment in Third Energy, the fracking company. The people of northern England have clearly stated that they do not want Third Energy fracking in their neighbourhoods. Additionally, studies in the USA have shown that fracking pollutes water supplies and creates unaccounted-for leaks in the methane infrastructure of fracking (including pipelines) which contribute to climate breakdown.
2) Climate breakdown is accelerating globally. This month, yet more high temperature records were broken in Australia. Climate breakdown and species extinction have a relationship of mutual reinforcement as proven by scientific studies, i.e. they form a positive feedback loop. Any corporations which are invested in unnecessary industries which are democratically unpopular and polluting of water, which is essential to all life, as well as contributing to climate breakdown by methane release, must be legally enforced against immediately. Where governments fail to do this, citizens have a moral duty to use non-violent direct action and mass civil disobedience to protect their countries from the starvation that is increasingly likely from food-ecosystem collapse. By conservative estimates we have ten years to reduce carbon emissions to zero to avoid mass starvation, including in the UK, from food-ecosystem collapse.
I received a Conditional Discharge for a period of 12 months with immediate costs of £110. The costs will be paid by XR Exeter, for which I’m very grateful.
I publicly intend to breach these conditions in April during international XR actions, as the future of life on Earth depends on it.’
– Matthew T.

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