Newsletter 2019-09-21 – Legal Rights Special – plus a thank you to the strikers!

Oxford Youth Strike (and adult supporters) on Broad Street, with lots of banners and smiles.
Oxford comes together at the Global Climate Strike. Photo credit: Hugh Warwick.

Before we get onto the legal stuff…

Let’s take a moment to thank all the young people of Oxfordshire, and across the world, for yesterday.

  • For uniting voices of all ages.
  • For showing us a way forward, together.
  • For telling the plain, simple truths that someone we adults forget.

According to Oxford Youth Strikes, an estimated 5000-6000 came out in force in Oxford to join the millions around the world, and the march got so big that it closed its own loop. The same happened at the evening Families Bike Ride, where riders from every corner of the city encircled the whole Plain roundabout with the sound of cheering, singing and the dinging of bells

This is an impressive achievement, and we’re not done yet. We hope yesterday has emboldened you to keep up that pressure into October, where we will be taking it to the real seat of power: Westminster.

On our legal rights theme for this week, let’s also consider our privilege of being able to collect together on a sunny day, without fear of harm or serious legal repercussions. This touching photo of yesterday’s school strikers of Kabul, guarded by Afghan security forces, highlights just how easy we have it. May we applaud their courage.

Young women leading a Fridays for Future march in Afghanistan, with a soldier at the front of the group.

Know your rights…

“The only time that people know it is serious, is when people are prepared to sacrifice their liberty in defence of their beliefs.” George Monbiot, 31st October 2018, Declaration of Rebellion, London.

With less than three weeks until the Rebellion, it’s crucial that all rebels inform themselves about their rights as protesters and the possible consequences of arrest. Come along to a Legal Briefing + Q&A session in Oxford on 23 September or in Wantage on 26 September. These sessions will help you decide what actions to take at the October rebellion and beyond. Every part of every rebel is needed – we need people who are prepared to be arrested and plenty of people on the ground in many other roles. Read up on your rights and how to be prepared, even if you’re not planning on being arrested, or join the XR webinars to find out more about mass mobilisation, contemplating prison, and hunger strikes. There’s loads more general practical info in XR Oxford goes to the Rebellion.

Upcoming Actions/Events

And on Fridays from 12.30 – 1.30 pm, there is a weekly ‘Eco-Listening Space’ to reflect on the climate emergency and any feelings that arise, Oxford Quaker Meeting House, 43 St Giles OX1 3LW

Rebels blocking a road, with police maintaining a cordon/safety perimeter.

Get your legal questions answered in person

Legal Briefing + Q&A – John Henry Brookes Lecture Theatre, Brookes University, and also King Alfred’s Head, Wantage

A detailed legal briefing with barrister John Briant of Reeds Solicitors and Chambers, in preparation for the October Rebellion. For rebels old and new and anyone interested in taking part. There will be plenty of time for Q&A!

The aim is to give you legal info to help you decide what actions to take at the Rebellion and beyond. It is essential that we each inform ourselves about the possible costs and other consequences of taking action – and this is a perfect chance to do it. If you do decide to take arrestable action, John will also give you practical tips about how to prepare for it.

If you decide not to take arrestable action, you’ll have the option to learn more about how you could support arrestees after the rebellion instead. Arrestee support is crucial, and we need folks who can support those arrested (more on this below!).

Rebels loft flags and placards with Police looking on.

Know your rights – online trainings

  • 23rd September, 7-9pm
  • Tuesday 1st October, 7-9pm
  • Saturday 5th October, 1-3pm

If you can’t make it to the in-person legal briefing, don’t worry! There are still several online Know Your Rights trainings before the Rebellion. Please remember that everyone should attend such a training and/or familiarise themselves with our legal resources before attending an action.

Why is this important?

Many rebels felt after April that their decision to get arrested was not an informed one – and they weren’t prepared for the consequences. It’s your responsibility to inform yourselves before attending an action – please encourage your affinity and local groups in doing the same. You can’t always plan an arrest – it can happen very quickly, so everyone should prepare themselves for this case, even if you don’t consider yourself an “arrestable”.

Know Your Rights trainings cover topics like…

  • What are your rights when dealing with the police?
  • What happens during a Stop and Search?
  • What happens during an arrest?
  • What are the possible consequences of an arrest or conviction?
  • What are rebels likely to be charged with?
  • What happens when you go to court?

To sign up, please first join the XR Oxford Announcements forum, and then visit this link. Joining Announcements will send you regular, important updates from XR Oxford, but if you’d rather just access the trainings and not get emails you can unsubscribe at any time. We have had to secure the training sign-up links due to the recent risk of trolls joining online XR meetings.

Police arresting a rebel.

Arrestee/Defendant Support in Oxford – we need your help!

Arrestees have been key to the success of XR. For our campaign of non-violent civil disobedience to work, we need to be disruptive, and this inevitably leads to arrests: the more the better in terms of media and public awareness. So far over 1100 people have been arrested, and this number is bound to grow, as a key part of a powerful and effective movement. So it is important that we value, respect and support arrestees. Many have stepped well out of their comfort zones in support of the movement’s aims, and some may feel a bit vulnerable.

Support can include all or some of these: 

  • Meeting Defendants – listening, and sharing thoughts.
  • Attending Defendants Group meetings, at roughly monthly intervals in Oxford. 
  • ‘Buddying’ arrestees through the ‘process’ of arrest and trial
  • Accompanying defendants to court, which can be immensely comforting in that potentially hostile-seeming environment.
  • If you have legal or literary skills, you may be able to assist those defendants who elect to self-represent to prepare their cases.
  • Being part of an arrestee support team at the October Rebellion. Following up who has been arrested, where they are being detained, informing their family/partner and meeting them when they are released.
  • Learning about legal aid, helping with legal aid applications, helping with fundraising to help defendants defray their legal expenses.

To get involved, please contact Peter King, and if possible come along to our Legal Briefing + Q&A on Monday, where there’ll be a session on arrestee support.

Where can I find more information?