The XR activists who took on oil giant Shell – and won

Below this story of yesterday’s victory of Extinction Rebellions (XR) activists is story of my friends from Bold Iowa who also argued the necessity defense in 2019.

Six Extinction Rebellion activists have been acquitted in a landmark verdict at Southwark Crown Court this afternoon.  

The jury delivered its not guilty verdict for each defendant, despite Judge Perrins ruling that five of the six had no defence under the law. 

The trial, for criminal damage to the Shell HQ building in London’s Waterloo in April 2019, which could have led to a maximum five year prison sentence and / or a £10k fine each, is XR’s second only case to be heard before a jury. [1]

The verdict is being hailed as a major victory for climate campaigners everywhere facing increasing criminalisation. Defendant Simon Bramwell, 49, cofounder of Extinction Rebellion, said: “It is a significant victory for the truth of these times, when despite the letter of the law, jurors can clearly see that a broken window is a just response to a breaking world.”

“How fitting that this comes after Earth Day and the two year anniversary of the death of environmental lawyer Polly Higgins, founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign, to whom we dedicated our non violent direct action against Shell. With today’s verdict, it is clear who the real climate criminals are in the climate and ecological emergency. ‘Shell knew’ as we wrote.” [2] [3]

BREAKING: The XR activists who took on oil giant Shell – and won by Extinction Rebellion, April 23, 2021

Jury nullification is what such a jury decision is called in the USA. It is a rare and brave jury that will stand up to the prosecutors and judge to situationally apply morality as a standard superior to some laws. “A jury’s knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law either because the jury wants to send a message about some social issue that is larger than the case itself, or because the result dictated by law is contrary to the jury’s sense of justice, morality, or fairness.”


On April 15th, the first day of Extinction Rebellion protests in London, an associated action took place at the Shell Headquarters on the South Bank near the London Eye.
Three activists glued their hands on to the entrance doors of the lobby, while two others climbed onto the glass canopy high up over the entrance. One more sprayed slogans on the wall to the right of the doors. The protesters planned to commit criminal damage worth more than £6000, which although small change for the oil giant, will ensure that they’d be prosecuted in a crown court in front of a jury. Using a punch tool, they also managed to shatter or damage several of the glass doors. The pair on the canopy hung a ‘Stop Ecocide’ banner, sprayed slogans, and dripped thick oily black paint down the walls.

In court, the campaigners hope to present evidence of Shell’s willful ecological destruction, citing internal documents that show the corporation’s own climate scientist were issuing warnings nearly 40 years ago, which the company has done its best to hide and ignore. They will defend their actions as ‘crimes of conscience’.

We recently interviewed international lawyer Polly Higgins, who is helping island states to amend international law and bring in a new crime of ‘ecocide’. She also spoke of how activists can use a ‘crime of conscience’ defense. Five people were arrested at the scene, but the other two remained on the glass canopy overnight, and came down after 25 hours. As they descended, another highly respected international lawyer, Farhana Yamin (one of the chief negotiators of the Paris Agreement) glued herself to the floor by the front doors, and two other protesters joined her.

Monday, November 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m. CT

Contact: Miriam Kashia at (319) 459-1154 or
Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or

Trial of five Iowa climate activists set for November 12

Dressed in black and wearing adult diapers, Bold Iowa supporters were arrested at a GOP rally and fundraiser for President Trump on June 11, 2019 while holding a sign reading, “Climate Denier in the White House scare the S#*T outta you? IT DOES US!”

DES MOINES, IOWA — The trial of the Iowa Climate Defenders Five (Todd Steichen, Martin Monroe, Miriam Kashia, Kathy Byrnes, and Ed Fallon) is scheduled to move forward on Tuesday, November 12 at 2:00 at the Polk County Justice Center, 222 5th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. Before the trial at 1:30, the five will hold a press conference outside the building.

Bold Iowa climate activists arrested at Trump/GOP fundraiser

On June 11, 2019, President Trump visited Hy-Vee’s Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines for a GOP rally and fundraiser. Thirty Bold Iowa supporters called out the president’s climate denial to him and attendees. Initially, protesters blocked one of the entrances to the facility’s parking lot. Later, five carrying a banner approached the building, hoping to enter and bring their urgent message to the attention of the president and the audience. At that point, they were arrested by West Des Moines police for simple misdemeanor trespass.

“Women’s right to vote. Civil rights. Stopping the Vietnam War. Environmental protections. The Women’s Movement. LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. These and so many other significant social justice shifts were accomplished because ordinary citizens were willing to take to the streets, and in many cases, willing to commit civil disobedience,” said Kashia. “History tells us that this is what has turned the tide.”

“We risked arrest because it’s urgent that we capture the attention of politicians, the press, and the public in this unprecedented moment where saving human life and the planet is on the line,” said Fallon. “We wanted to emphasize to those gathered at the rally and fundraiser that climate change threatens our very survival, and a president who denies the problem — whose policies in fact greatly exacerbate the threat — must be called out and challenged.”

Because of the worsening climate emergency, the Iowa Climate Defenders Five feel called to act in the interest of present and future generations and the planet. Similar cases across the country have seen judges responding more sympathetically to the climate necessity defense.

The urgency of climate change is also shared by Iowa scientists in the Iowa Climate Statement and in a report by the Iowa DNR. Both warn about the harm being done because of our dependence on fossil fuels.

Furthermore, earlier this year, the Iowa Supreme Court stated in its ruling in Puntenney vs the Iowa Utilities Board (the Dakota Access Pipeline case), page 37, “We recognize that a serious and warranted concern about climate change underlies some of the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.”

Bold Iowa’s mission is to build rural-urban coalitions to (1) fight climate change, (2) prevent the abuse of eminent domain, (3) protect Iowa’s soil, air, and water, (4) defend the rights of farmers, landowners, and Indigenous communities, and (5) promote non-industrial renewable energy.

Climate Activists Go to Trial by Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa, November 11, 2019

The urgency of climate change is also shared by Iowa scientists in the Iowa Climate Statement and in a report by the Iowa DNR. Both warn about the harm being done because of our dependence on fossil fuels.

Last week, a Polk County District judge ruled against the Climate Defenders Five, finding us guilty of misdemeanor trespass in our protest against President Trump’s abject denial of climate science during the president’s visit to West Des Moines in June.

Climate Defenders Five after being released from jail: Miriam Kashia, Kathy Byrnes, Marty Monroe, Ed Fallon, Todd Steichen (Photo by Shari Hrdina)

With all due respect, the Court completely failed to understand the growing urgency of the climate emergency, and thus the necessity justification of our defense. In saying that it recognized our “concern for the President’s policy on climate change,” the court got it wrong. The president has no policy on climate change. It’s his complete denial of the scientific proof of climate change that concerns us, not his nonexistent policy.

The Court also claimed that the “Defendant(s) did not present substantial evidence for the affirmative defense of justification in remaining on the Property.” Yet what could be greater cause for justification than an existential threat to our very survival?

Court fails to understand urgency of climate crisis by Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa, Dec 4, 2019

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