Stroud protester’s impassioned plea at climate demo sentencing

AN Extinction Rebellion campaigner from Stroud gave an impassioned plea to a court as she was sentenced over criminal damage charges.

Skeena Rathor, 46, one of the co-leaders and founding members of the environmental campaign group, scaled the entrance of the Guildhall in central London as part of a protest last summer.

She appeared at Central London Magistrates’ Court on April, charged with causing £611 of damage to the exterior of the Guildhall Art Gallery in London on August 22, 2021.

Ms Rathnor, who is a former Stroud district councillor, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs.

The entrance to the Guildhall was damaged during the protest by Extinction Rebellion, as the campaign group prepared to kick off two weeks of action in the capital.

A crowd of about 200 people sang and cheered as protesters sprayed red paint over the walls of the building and unfurled a banner reading “co-liberation freedom together”.

Speaking in court about her actions, Ms Rathor said: “This was a symbolic non violent action that caused no damage.”

Ms Rathor read out a heartfelt statement, outlining her reasons for taking part in the action.

She said the The City of London “is the world’s centre of corruption and theft – organising the hiding and tax evasion of £20 trillion in offshore havens.

“That I am being tried for criminal damages is lunacy and indicative of the corruption of real justice.”

She continued: “The Guildhall was the meeting place for the major shareholders of the Royal African Company from the City of London for about 150 years until 1807.

“This company, backed by the crown, was responsible for the shipping of more enslaved African women, men and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the transatlantic slave trade.

“The shareholders in the City of London have received compensation since its abolition, this only ended recently in 2015.

“Today, The City of London is the ninth largest emitter of CO2 in the world.

“It’s a servant for the extraction and exploitation activity of the most obscenely wealthy corporations and individuals.

“How to communicate with it is entirely unclear. It is impenetrable. It has an unelected representative in Parliament – so it evades responsibilities as it undermines democracy every day.

“There is no democratic way of redress of the City of London.”

The City of London Corporation was approached for a response but declined to comment.

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