This blog post was originally written as a Facebook post by Roscoe’s sister.
So, today I sat in court as my wonderful brother Roscoe was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.
Roscoe’s given me, as a sibling, a lot to be proud of (and infuriated by, if you have any sense of rivalry) over the years – if you’ve met him you’ll know what I mean. He’s caring, principled, compassionate, honest, full of energy, keen to learn, and generous with his time.
I have never been prouder of him than I am right now.
Last year, he responded to a nationwide call for support from residents in Lancashire, who for so many years have been fighting against the Preston New Road fracking site.
They only planned to provide moral support but when the opportunity arose to occupy a convoy of lorries carrying vital equipment to begin fracking on the site, he and three others (now known as the Frack Free Four, hashtag optional) took it.
They’ve been sent to prison for supporting the Lancashire community and doing what they can to stop the climate crisis through peaceful protest.
It’s the first time anyone has been sent to prison for protesting against fracking in the UK.
Thing is. If the authorities want to use these gentle, intelligent, incredibly well-informed and socially-conscious people as an example in an attempt to dissuade protest, they’re thinking wrong.
I’ve vaguely talked the talk but don’t always live my life by my principles. I occasionally buy cling-filmed cucumbers. I don’t always check the back of groceries for palm oil. I know fracking’s ‘bad’ but I’ve not reeeally thought further about it at length, much less done anything. I knew vaguely what Roscoe and the others had done, and thought, “cool”, but hadn’t familiarised myself with the details. I hadn’t realised how many hours they were up there, and how much belief you have to have that you’re doing the right thing to get to that.
Visiting Maple Farm and the temporary structure outside the fracking site gates, where protesters – many regular, local residents – take shifts to sit in the cold, the noise, stay overnight on a makeshift bed – to demonstrate their disagreement with the decision to allow Cuadrilla to frack here…
Hearing excerpts from letters of reference about the three young men in court today, about their volunteer work, the community projects they’ve started or been involved in, their dedication to improving the lives of a wider community and to raising awareness of environmental issues that many of us would rather not think of..
I’ve never seen my Dad cry before today. We were all devastated by the court’s decision to send these three gorgeous members of the community to prison, and for such an unforgiving length of time.
But, I think what really broke in him, or us, was faith in the justice system, in our democracy. He is naturally quite traditional and respectful of authority and the government. ‘You may not agree with every decision but as a country we voted them in and have to respect them.’ And trust they’ll act reasonably, in our best interests… But they’re not, are they?
On our way to New Road and Maple Farm on Tuesday, we had a discussion about protest, and direct action. We discussed what we felt are the appropriate ways to deal with authority decisions when you feel that they are wrong, and what to do if you feel bureaucratic procedures are exhausted. What if they just don’t listen to your valid, scientific points? What if the petitions go ignored? What if people are at risk of harm, or having their rights taken away, right now, as a result of their decision? What do you do? Grin and bear it, trust that the authorities know more, know what they’re doing, have everyone’s best interest at heart (probably don’t have shares in involved industries), and if it’s wrong, it’s only four years til we can vote in someone new, hopefully there won’t be too many casualties in the meantime?
Doesn’t really feel like enough.
Today we all saw how it works.
Backing locals, Lancashire council rejected Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Preston New Road. The government overruled them. Petitions aren’t listened to. “Political process has been exhausted,” in the words of Kirsty Brimelow QC.
This does not seem a fair sentence for a peaceful protest.
I don’t think that by sentencing three peaceful protesters to 15, 16 month prison sentences has increased anyone’s respect for the judicial system, and certainly not put anyone off from campaigning against fracking sites.
I’m fucking inspired.
If my brother, and two other beautiful men (who I’d not met before this process) are going to sit in a cell for what, eight months, only given minimal fresh air, it’s going to be for something.
Let’s educate ourselves more on the dangers of fracking. Let’s learn why Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands have introduced bans or restrictions on fracking. Let’s think about why our government thinks it’s a good idea.
The baby has been moving more than ever inside me today – I like to think it’s saying ‘Power!’ 💪
To sign the petition/ support the Frack Free Four / send messages of support: FrackFreeFourSupporters.org