On the 1st of June 2011 the High Court of Denmark sentenced Tannie Nyboe and Stine Gry Jonassen two months of prison and two months of suspended prison (one year of probation) for their involvement in the non-violent civil disobedient mass action Reclaim Power – Pushing for Climate Justice that took place on the 16th of December 2009 during the COP15 in Copenhagen (i.e., the 15th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
The purpose of the action, which was mobilised by the global network Climate Justice Action (CJA), was to hold a popular assembly which challenged the legitimacy of the official COP negotiations. Protesters from outside and critical accredited participants from inside were to create a platform for the people and groups mostly affected by climate change, whose voices were (and still are) not being listened to in the official COP negotiations (See this video for a summary of the action).
Acting as Danish spokesperson for the CJA in the period leading up to the COP15, speaking with Danish media and the police about the purpose of the action and its non-violent action codex, Tannie and Stine Gry were asked to facilitate communication on the sound truck during the Reclaim Power action. This led to them being arrested and held personally responsible for the action. The main evidence used against them was that they allegedly shouted “push” from the sound truck during the demonstration, along with thousands of other protesters.
On the 25th of November 2010 the Copenhagen District Court found Tannie and Stine Gry guilty in planning and instigating violence against the police (§119), serious disturbance of public peace and order (§134a), trespassing (§264) and vandalism (§291). They received a four months suspended prison sentence with one year of probation (for more on this, see summary of first court case and a list of international media coverage).
Not satisfied with the sentence, the police decided to appeal to the High Court of Denmark. Although this resulted in the fourth charge of vandalism (§291) being dropped, the appeal also resulted in Tannie and Stine Gry receiving a stiffer sentence than before, so that they now face two months of prison and two months of suspended prison with one year of probation (The Guardian, 2 June 2011). In addition to this Tannie and Stine Gry face high court costs, possibly up to 30.000 Euros or more.
But WE ALL SHOUTED PUSH and we all pushed together for climate justice the 16th of December 2009!
In holding two individuals responsible for a whole movement’s collective decision-making and collective protests, Tannie and Stine Gry’s verdict violates and undermines fundamental principles of social movement politics. The case clearly demonstrates how societal structures in “democratic countries” like Denmark scare people from protesting and organizing politically, killing off critical voices that dare to stand forward in the media.
What we are witnessing is a violation of the freedom of speech and our right to assembly, in other words a tactic of repression aimed at silencing social movements. For people to not be afraid to speak out in the future we need to show solidarity with individuals who are targets of political repression. It is thus of fundamental importance that there is a collective response of solidarity with Tannie and Stine Gry.
We cannot change the prison sentence; Tannie and Stine Gry will pay for the action of a whole movement by having their bodies locked behind prison walls for two months minimum. However, we can do something to cover the court costs collectively, therefore the Climate Collective encourages individuals, groups, collectives and organisations that were involved in the CJA mobilisation leading up to the COP15, and/or that participated in the Reclaim Power action on the 16th of December 2009, and others that wish to show solidarity with Tannie and Stine Gry, to help covering our common court expenses.
This can be done in a variety of ways: individuals can for instance contribute with their salary earned from one day of work, groups and collectives can make support dinners or parties, more established NGOs are encouraged to donate money to the cause from their funds. These ideas are not exhaustive and activists are encouraged to think creatively and contribute in whatever ways they can and feel like.