January 2011


4.30pm. Market Square, Nottingham

Nottingham students again protested against scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance. I understand that the government plan to do this in September this year.

Another rally was held in the square, before a short walk around the Square and nearby streets.

After Tuesdays and Saturdays demo, today, I noticed that police were wandering about next to branches of all the usual destinations: Top Shop, Boots, Vodafone and there was a massed turnout of security at entrances to the Victoria Centre.

This was organised to coincide with a Commons vote on EMA.  Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) were introduced by Labour to encourage young people from deprived backgrounds to stay in education and training after the age of 16.  However the government won by a majority of 59 votes.

Labour loses vote to stop scrapping of EMA grants
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12228466

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The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a means-tested allowance of between £10 and £30, paid to 16- to 19-year-olds who stay on in education.

Rolled out nationally in September 2004, EMA is intended to help with the cost of books, travel, equipment or anything useful to the continuation of learning. It’s paid straight into the pupil’s bank account, not their parents or their college, giving them independence and forcing them to take charge of a small weekly budget. The payments are under the condition that they attend classes regularly. If the pupil works hard or achieves good grades, there is the opportunity to earn bonuses.

EMA is available to 16-19 year olds who come from low income families and whose household’s net income is below £30,000 pa. There is an additional grant for those students from families household income is up to and below £20,000 pa. EMA currently exists all across the UK although the administering of it is devolved to the regional parliaments of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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On Saturday January 15, 2011 …. they did it all again

2011 Nottingham Students another Protest Against Scrapping EMA
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/887

Earlier in the week [Tuesday 11th January] student had walked out of college and protested in the Market Square and Conservative HQ

Students Protest Against Scrapping EMA
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/875

Video: Nttm Students visit Conservative Party HQ – Demo
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/877

Video: Nttm Students visit Conservative Party HQ – Detained
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/878

Save EMA
http://saveema.co.uk

Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts!
http://nsafc.wordpress.com

Notts Save Our Services
Defending jobs, services, welfare & education against cuts in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
http://nottssos.org.uk

Smashed Windows & Graffiti @ Conservative Offices
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/677

2010 Notts Save Our Services Demo 1 The March
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/694

2010 Anti Cuts, Corporate Tax & Student Fees Demo [Video]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/videos/832

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18th January Nottingham Crown Court [Day 17]

From the first trial the previous 18 of the 20 defendant had already been sentenced on the 10th January.

The remaining 2 had to appear at Court 5, Nottingham Crown Court today.

The story so far ….. At the conclusion of the trial on the 14th December 2010, all 20 defendants were found guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Trespass.

They were arrested in April 2009 during the biggest pre-emptive arrest in UK history. The 114 people were detained at Iona School, Sneinton, where they were involved in planning an operation to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station for a week. The facts were not disputed.  Giving evidence, this was clearly there intention and that they were equipped to do it.  The defence of necessity was employed in that they were acting to prevent a greater harm; death and serious injury to others as a direct consequence of climate changes bought about by the burning of fossil fuels, most notably coal.

His Honour Judge Teare had deferred sentencing until today [18 January 2011] for the remaining 2 defendants.

Miss Gerry for the prosecution said that these defendants did have a number of previous convictions for offences relating to social and environmental matters. She read out the previous for them that involved protests at Heathrow, Kingsnorth, Sizewell, Didcot, RAF Northwood and Downing Street.

She reminded the Judge she had asked for prosecution costs of £5,000 costs against each defendant. Further she applied for a deprivation order under:

Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 [sect 143]
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/6/section/143

Judge Teare turns to thoughts of sentencing.  To start with, he said he was quite cross with Mr Edward Rees, the lead defence barrister [not present at this court], in that he had mislead the court to believe that a suspended sentence could not be given for a prison sentence of three months or less. He should have behaved better for a QC.  This is the maximum penalty for this offence.  It is in fact for sentences of less than six months that could be suspended!  He said if he had realised this, a couple of the earlier defendants would have had suspended sentences. He has looked further into this, and if minded, he could revisit sentencing for those within 28 days, but he is not going to.

With regard to these defendants, Judge Teare says that each have had many previous appearances and he says I am now considering suspended sentences. Ms Elliot in mitigation says that if that is so, these two fall below the level of others given lesser sentences at the last date.

Turning to references, Ms Elliot says that both have glowing references from the Director of Greenpeace, both being staff members there. It was not however, a ‘Greenpeace action’.  Both have been very active in raising public awareness on issues around climate change.

Ms Elliot reminds the Judge of his comments on sentencing the other defendants:

“I have read a great deal about all of you since the trial concluded. There is not one of you who cannot provide glowing references from peers or professionals. And, if I may select, some of the adjectives that recur throughout they are these: honest, sincere, conscientious, intelligent, committed, dedicated and caring. You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form. I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives. And that is an extremely important consideration”.

Sarah Elliot, compared the defendants behaviour and high principles unfavourably with police methods. She told the Judge that their honourable and decent motives perhaps might be contrasted with what we now know about the long-term deployment of undercover police officers, one of whom acted on the ‘extreme boundary of legality’, if not decency, if the reports of agitation and so on across Europe are to be believed. The deployment of that officer has been concealed from the defendants by the crown in these proceedings. Such evidence might have had an influence on the trial.

His Honour Judge Jonathan Teare, referring to the undercover police officer said that he is going to disappoint the media by making NO COMMENT on PC Mark Kennedy, other than to say that he played absolutely no part in the trial. He says I have no knowledge of him apart from the fact that he hired a vehicle as part of these events. All matters pertaining to his involvement are alleged and unproved at this stage. I guess a fair few of the journos present were hoping for a few more juicy titbits about him.

On sentencing, the Judge says he’s not going to reiterate all of his comments from the last trial, other than that both are both clearly motivated and come with the highest references. As with a couple of others, I was considering giving you both suspended sentences in the light  of your previous convictions, but as already said, Mr Rees had mislead me.  It is thus unfair to treat you differently now. He gives community service orders to do unpaid work within 12 months one for 90 hours and the other 80 hours. Although they were both employed, because of their low income, there was no order on costs.

Returning to the deprivation order on the kit defence barrister Ms Elliot tried to argue that quite expensive climbing gear, a truck load of sleeping bags etc … were a little outside of the normal articles involved in crime such as knives, guns, drugs, crowbar etc.  Judge said that he was minded to grant a deprivation order, since the articles were bought for this crime. Defence counters asking that rather than confiscation and destruction, perhaps defendant might be allowed to sign a disclaimer and the articles might be given to a charity?  Eventually, after several more exchanges, the judge asked both side to try to come to some agreement themselves on all the property included in both trials and those not charged, and to let him know, for ‘rubber-stamping’, by the 18th March.

She said the extensive list of personal items also including Kennedy’s BlackBerry phone, complete with a secret police tracking device. She say this was mentioned in the reports in the Daily Mail. The Judge remarked that: “That is a newspaper which does not cross my table.” Chuckle went round the courtroom 🙂

Defendants and their solicitor had all voiced concerns on how little the Judge had been told about PC Kennedy’s undercover work and his likely contribution to the evidence before the court.

One of the defendants, who is head of media for Greenpeace, said on the steps of Nottingham crown court that the only people who now faced jail over the Ratcliffe protest were police officers. He accused them of withholding a tape made by Kennedy which is now the subject of a disclosure application to the CPS.

He said: “Kennedy played no part in our trial because he did not come up in evidence. Those who knew that he was a police officer, and knew the significance of that explosive tape, did not tell us, and, now we know, significantly,  did not tell the judge.”

“Very serious allegations have been raised which throw into doubt the safety of our conviction, and there is possibly a miscarriage of justice. I don’t think any of us, when we were arrested, would have thought that a possible scenario at the end of this would be that the only people who face jail sentences are police officers for suppressing evidence.”

Speaking on the court steps after the trial:

Last 2x defendants from 1st Ratcliffe Trial Statements- Nottm Crown Court [Video]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/898

Mike Schwarz Solicitor Statements on Trial & Kennedy – Nottm Crown Court [Video]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/899

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Tash Report PDF on the Trial Progress: Ratcliffe Crown Court Case Nov 2010 – Jan 2011
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/system/file_upload/2011/01/08/72/ratcliffe_crown_court_case__nov_2010__no_names.pdf

Earlier Indymedia daily coverage of the progress of this trial
with the daily links:
Ratcliffe Trial Day 16 – Return for Sentencing
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/847

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

Students Protest Against Scrapping Educational Maintenance Allowance EMA.

Meeting in the Market Square Nottingham at 12.00pm on Saturday 15th January, School and College Student gathered to protest at the Scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.  “nd demo this week, last being on Tuesday 11th January.

Nottingham students again protested against scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance. I understand that the government plan to do this in September this year.

A rally was held in the square, before a short walk to Vodafone, with much shouting of “pay your Taxes etc”.

After Tuesdays demo, today, I noticed that police were wandering about next to branches of all the usual destinations: Top Shop, Boots, Vodafone …. Oh and Tory HQ

 

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a means-tested allowance of between £10 and £30, paid to 16- to 19-year-olds who stay on in education.

Rolled out nationally in September 2004, EMA is intended to help with the cost of books, travel, equipment or anything useful to the continuation of learning. It’s paid straight into the pupil’s bank account, not their parents or their college, giving them independence and forcing them to take charge of a small weekly budget. The payments are under the condition that they attend classes regularly. If the pupil works hard or achieves good grades, there is the opportunity to earn bonuses.

EMA is available to 16-19 year olds who come from low income families and whose household’s net income is below £30,000 pa. There is an additional grant for those students from families household income is up to and below £20,000 pa. EMA currently exists all across the UK although the administering of it is devolved to the regional parliaments of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

+++

Earlier in the week [Tuesday 11th January] student had walked out of college and protested in the Market Square and Conservative HQ

Students Protest Against Scrapping EMA
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/875

Video: Nttm Students visit Conservative Party HQ – Demo
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/877

Video: Nttm Students visit Conservative Party HQ – Detained
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/878

Save EMA
http://saveema.co.uk

Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts!
http://nsafc.wordpress.com

Notts Save Our Services
Defending jobs, services, welfare & education against cuts in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
http://nottssos.org.uk

Smashed Windows & Graffiti @ Conservative Offices
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/677

2010 Notts Save Our Services Demo 1 The March
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/694

2010 Anti Cuts, Corporate Tax & Student Fees Demo [Video]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/videos/832

Meeting in the Market Square Nottingham at 3.00pm on Tuesday 11th January, School and College Student gathered to protest at the Scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.  Students had earlier walked out at 2.00pm

Nottingham Students Protested against scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance. I understand that the government plan to do this in September this year.

A rally was held in the square, before a tour round the block to take in the usual suspects like Vodafone and Boots, with much shouting of “pay your Taxes etc”.

Later, folks headed off to the Conservative HQ Offices at:

Conservative Party Office
1 King Edward Court,
Nottingham
NG1 1EW

For those that don’t know.

They weren’t expected and the gates to the compound there were open.  People banged on the door, rang the bell etc, to try and get someone to talk about the issue.  There was no answer 🙂  It was noted that there was a painting of Margret Thatcher, adorning the foyer causing many remarks!  Many folks at other office windows were smiling and seeming to enjoy the demo as a spectacle.

The situation was good humored until one young lad was detained  [for, I think graffiti, although i saw none]. Folks then returned there to demand his release.  Police were called and it is believed he was taken to Bridewell police Station, leaving via another entrance.

Demo then went back through town, visiting another Vodafone store, and having a bit of a sit-in.

 

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The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a means-tested allowance of between £10 and £30, paid to 16- to 19-year-olds who stay on in education.

Rolled out nationally in September 2004, EMA is intended to help with the cost of books, travel, equipment or anything useful to the continuation of learning. It’s paid straight into the pupil’s bank account, not their parents or their college, giving them independence and forcing them to take charge of a small weekly budget. The payments are under the condition that they attend classes regularly. If the pupil works hard or achieves good grades, there is the opportunity to earn bonuses.

EMA is available to 16-19 year olds who come from low income families and whose household’s net income is below £30,000 pa. There is an additional grant for those students from families household income is up to and below £20,000 pa. EMA currently exists all across the UK although the administering of it is devolved to the regional parliaments of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Save EMA
http://saveema.co.uk

Nottingham Students Against Fees and Cuts!
http://nsafc.wordpress.com

Notts Save Our Services
Defending jobs, services, welfare & education against cuts in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
http://nottssos.org.uk

Smashed Windows & Graffiti @ Conservative Offices
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/677

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descent report on ITV Central
http://www.itv.com/central-east/student-protests98684

Over the last few weeks, 20 protestors had been appearing in Nottingham crown Court, accused of conspiring to shut down the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station. They were found guilty and were sentenced on the 5th January.

Today was to have been the beginning of a trial of a further 6 people arrested during the police Operation Aeroscope in which 114 people had been arrested by Nottinghamshire Police to prevent the action going ahead.

Integral to this case is the revelations of the work of the undercover Metropolitan Police Officer Mark Kennedy.

Mark ‘Stone/Kennedy’ exposed as undercover police officer? – Indymedia UK 21 October 2010
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/10/466477.html

Mike Schwarz,a solicitor at the Bindmans law firm who represented the activists,  said last night:
“I have no doubt that our attempts to get disclosure about Kennedy’s role has led to the collapse of the trial. It is no coincidence that just 48 hours after we told the CPS our clients could not receive a fair trial unless they disclosed material about Kennedy, they halted the prosecution. Given that Kennedy was, until recently, willing to assist the defence, one has to ask if the police were facing up to the possibility their undercover agent had turned native.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer was spotted in Nottingham Crown Court this morning. A few of us were wondering if that his presence had anything to do with the trial collapse?  A couple of journalist asked court staff if this was so.  But, no!!  Apparently he was on a routine visit to the court. We looked at each other and said: “yea right” at the same time 🙂

Sitting in Court 3 the defendant initially seated in the dock [glass tank!] were invited to seating within the court. Before His Honour Judge Milmo QC, Miss Felicity Gerry for the prosecution said that on last Wednesday [5th January], the Crown Prosecution Service undertook a review of the case and that as a result, the crown had decided to offer no evidence.  The judge therefore declares all six defendants not guilty. The defendant were represented by six individual barristers each of which then applied to the court for an assortment of legal and travel costs all being agreed by the judge.

He then rose.

The whole gig done and dusted in under ten minutes!

Of course the defendants had had this case hanging over their lives since Easter 2009. Obviously being in possession of more of the facts than they had let on. It would of course have been nice if the prosecution might have alleviated their distress by pulling the plug earlier. But no!

Outside, speaking on the court steps, solicitor Mick Schwartz said that the reason for the collapse of the trial was that:
“Previously unavailable material that significantly undermines the prosecution’s case came to light on Wednesday 5 January’. The discovery of this material came at the time when the prosecution were informed that we planned to pursue disclosure of the evidence relating to PC Kennedy with the judge. Unsurprisingly, they have declined to confirm whether the new material relates to PC Kennedy. In my opinion the two are obviously connected. The timing speaks for itself. These events also beg wider, serious questions. Would this evidence have been uncovered had the defence not become aware of it through other avenues?”

The primary difference in the defence operated in these two trials was that the first 20 said in court, that they were going to carry out the action that they were accused of, but claimed that it was ‘necessary’. A lawful excuse for action.  This latest trial of the six, would have said that yes, they were there, but had not decided whether to have taken part in any action, or not. PC Kennedy being present there, might have been able to help the court with that!!

It seems obvious to me that with the scale of the climate emergency in front of us, these [and similar] cases are only just the beginning.  As time progresses [runs out], many other concerned citizens will be taking direct actions on these issues.  The law will of course be 47 steps behind, uncertain if action is necessary or not, or, if democracy and political process can save us.  Having heard all the evidence from the last trial ….. I think not. Personally, I hope one day, the law might progress that we can eventually take action against companies / government for the new offence of ecocide, rather than defending individual peoples actions to be ‘necessary’.

Why we need a law on ecocide – Polly Higgins barrister, international environmental lawyer Guardian 5 January 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2011/jan/05/ecocide-law-ratcliffe

This Is Ecocide | Making the destruction of our planet a crime
http://www.thisisecocide.com

I wish everyone with concerns about our future, the very best in any action they can take to help us protect it.  For all future generations and species on the planet. My thanks.

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Mike Schwarz’s of Bindmans Solicitors statement on undercover policeman Mark Kennedy and the Ratcliffe trial

On Easter Monday 2009 over 400 police officers were involved in a raid  at Iona school in Nottingham, which led to 114 arrests. I represented 113 of those arrested. The 114th we now know was PC Kennedy, an undercover police officer. Six of my clients were due to face a long trial starting today. However, the prosecution told the defence on Friday 7th January 2011, just before the trial was due to begin, and almost 20 months after the investigation began, that ‘Previously unavailable material that significantly undermines the prosecution’s case came to light on Wednesday 5 January’. The discovery of this material came at the time when the prosecution were informed that we planned to pursue disclosure of the evidence relating to PC Kennedy with the judge. Unsurprisingly, they have declined to confirm whether the new material relates to PC Kennedy. In my opinion the two are obviously connected. The timing speaks for itself. These events also beg wider, serious questions. Would this evidence have been uncovered had the defence not become aware of it through other avenues? And is it appropriate that access to, and decisions about, disclosure of key evidence should exclusively be in the hands of a prosecution whose primary function is to secure convictions? Let me be clear about this. My clients were not guilty. They did not agree to join in any plan to occupy the power station. The evidence of PC Kennedy presumably confirmed this. Yet that evidence, had it been kept secret, could have led to a miscarriage of justice. Serious questions must be asked relating to the policing of protest, from the use of undercover officers, to the use of expensive and legally questionable mass pre-emptive arrest of protesters, to extremely restrictive pre-charge bail condition, to the seemingly arbitrary nature by which the 114 initially arrested were reduced to the final 26 who were eventually charged. The police need to answer some serious questions about their conduct relating to protesters generally.

Undercover officer spied on green activists – Rob Evans and Paul Lewis Guardian 9 January 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/09/undercover-office-green-activists

Mark Kennedy: A journey from undercover cop to ‘bona fide’ activist – Rob Evans and Paul Lewis Guardian 10 January 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/10/mark-kennedy-undercover-cop-activist

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

Indymedia daily coverage of the progress of this trial:

Ratcliffe Trial: Nottingham Crown Court,  November 2010 > January 2011

2009 Nottingham Mass Arrest of 114 Climate Activists in Raid in Nottingham
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/427471.html
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/427496.html

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Conspiracy Trial Begins [Feature]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/701

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe conspiracy to trespass trial opens today
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/693

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 2 – Prosecution’s Opening
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/702

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 3 – Prosecution case continues
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/710

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial: Prosecution Opens [Feature 2]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/714

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 4 – Prosecution case concludes
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/716

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 5 – Defence case opens
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/735

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 6 – The Defence Continues
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/744

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 7  ‘Snowed off’

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 8 – Defence Calls MP’s
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/765

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 9 – Defence Calls More Experts
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/786

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 10 – Defence Calls more Defendants
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/788

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 11 – Defence Concludes its Case
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/789

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 12 – Concluding Speeches
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/796

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 13 – Final bits & Jury Retires
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/799

2010 Nottingham Activist Speech On The Ratcliffe Trials
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/videos/798

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 14 – Jury Still Retired
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/809

2010 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 15 – Jury says Guilty
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/811

2011 Nottingham Ratcliffe Trial Day 16 – Return for Sentencing
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/847

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

We are twenty of the 114 who were part of the biggest pre-emptive arrest in British history as part of the increasing legal drive which priorities the protection of polluting business, and not people. As the UN Climate talks in Cancun produced embarrassingly inadequate legal responses, it’s time for people to stand up and take action. We planned not only to stop carbon emissions from Ratcliffe but to be part of a much wider movement for global social justice.

We know the road to a sustainable future will not be easy. Today its hard to ignore the impacts of runaway climate change. Post sentencing we still feel our actions are a reasonable response to the irrational destructive situation we are in. Its a story which has been repeated time and again but in 2011 the show must go on. We will have to see huge shifts in the legal system to make the British judicial system set a global example – by redirecting their attention to the real criminals, the profit hungry fossil fuel industries. Dealing with climate change means looking at its root causes and we need to question why the profits of corporations such as e.on are being prioritised over people on the front line of our changing climate and the protection of our children’s futures.

This scheme requires long term commitment and increasingly staunch political will – through creative direct action and other methods people can change the story of humans future. This is not an exercise in abstract science lessons – it requires us to stare hard into our communities and start joining up the dots. It’s the same energy companies that cling to coal who force pensioners into deadly fuel poverty. It’s the same government who fails to invest in green jobs that cut the UK flood defence budget. There are many avenues for making the links and connections and we are ever more determined to do all we can to stop emissions. As erratic weather patterns create more disasters, as people continue to choke on fumes and see their houses engulfed in floods – taking action on climate change is no longer an option – its a necessity. We want to reiterate our support for everyone everywhere fighting for climate justice.

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

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