Just Stop Oil eco-zealot who threw orange paint over Scotland Yard's revolving sign is cleared of criminal damage after her barrister likens her to Rosa Parks

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An eco-zealot who threw orange paint over Scotland Yard's revolving sign is cleared of criminal damage after her barrister likened her to Rosa Parks.

Lora Johnson, 39, used a fire extinguisher to spray paint the sign amid a series of coordinated actions by Just Stop Oil on October, 14, 2022.

Demonstrators also blocked the road in front of the Metropolitan Police headquarters along Victoria Embankment.

Johnson claimed she did not think the sign would be seriously damaged as the paint was water soluble.

The iconic revolving sign is in the open air and designed to withstand all kinds of weather.

Johnson, of Southwold, Suffolk, was cleared of criminal damage by a jury at Southwark Crown Court after she said: 'If we don't act, life on earth will go extinct.'

In a statement released by JSO, the activist said: 'The action I took was painting the New Scotland Yard sign orange, in resistance to the government's...approval of new oil and gas licences.

'I would like to ask the Met police: who are they there to serve and protect? The good people of this country?

A Met Police officer detains Lora Johnson, 39 (pictured) for spraying the Scotland Yard rotating sign with orange paint 

Ms Johnson being arrested by a Met Police officer for spray painting the sign 

Johnson, of Southwold, Suffolk, was cleared of criminal damage by a jury at Southwark Crown Court after she said: 'If we don't act, life on earth will go extinct.'

'Or the oil-corrupted government? I would like to ask them how they are planning to police the mass hysteria, the panic, the fear, the looting, the theft, the hoarding and the inevitable violence that will result when our shelves are empty and we can't feed our children?'

In his closing speech, Owen Greenhall, defending, had told jurors how the Suffragettes and black civil rights activist Rosa Parks all took direct action.

How Rosa Parks' civil disobedience sparked the US Civil Rights Movement 

After Rosa Parks had refused to give up her seat to a white person and was arrested for it, just like Claudette Colvin, the city’s civil rights leaders boycotted the transit system and chose Martin Luther King as their leader.

In his first speech to the group as its president, he said: ‘We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience.

‘We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.’

One year and a few weeks later, the city’s buses were desegregated.

'It is important that you don't think of direct action as something that is outside of democracy.

'Direct action and civil disobedience is a part of democracy.

'The Suffragettes are a clear example. It is well known that they used direct action. They broke all the windows on Oxford Street. They burned down buildings.

'Consider what this room would look like without the Suffragettes. There would be no female barristers, no female officers, no female jurors.

Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, they all used civil disobedience.

'That change didn't happen without direct action.

'While you might not like direct action, it is not something that you can simply dismiss.'

Referring to Johnson, Mr Greenhall said: 'Her childhood interest in the environment was rekindled by the Extinction Rebellion movement in 2019.'

The court heard the orange paint that she used to spray the sign was water soluble.

Mr Greenhall told the jury that the sign was cleaned with 'a simple jet wash.'

'It is clear that it was cleaned off with simple soap and water. My main point to you is that mess is not damage.'

'If your children spilled water soluble paint on the floor you would say that they had made a mess.'

The court was told that some paint had got inside the sign, but that this may have been caused by the jet washing, not by Johnson.

'It is not enough for the prosecution to say that the paint she sprayed might have got inside the sign. They have to make you sure that the paint getting inside the sign was not due to jet washing,' Mr Greenhall added.

'She says that it didn't cross her mind that the sign would be damaged. The sign is out in the open, and designed to withstand rain, hail and snow.'

'It was reasonable to assume that it was not going to take any extensive cleaning.

'You heard her say that if we don't act, life on earth will go extinct.'

Johnson denied and was acquitted of criminal damage.

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