Extinction Rebellion activists avoid compo for CBD mayhem
Two Extinction Rebellion protesters who held up inner-city Brisbane traffic for more than two hours earlier this month have been fined hundreds of dollars each.
However, serial protester Eric Serge Herbert, 21, and Wenzel Auch, 28, have avoided paying $917 restitution to the State fire service and their convictions have not been recorded.
The pair blocked traffic at the intersection of Edward and Queen Sts on December 7, from 7.15am to 9.25am, while protesting on top of a truck, Brisbane Magistrates Court heard.
Police, including the Special Emergency Response Team, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and Queensland Ambulance Service, were called to the scene.
Herbert has just spent seven days in Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, after he refused to sign a bail condition agreeing not to participate in any illegal protests while on bail.
Wenzel Auch, 28, who also refused to sign the bail condition, spent four days in custody, before being released on Friday.
The court heard the protesters appeared to have their arms locked in a metal pipe "sleeping dragon'' device, while they stood on the truck during the protest.
However, after fire officers brought them to the ground and sawed through the pipe, it was revealed the pair were only held together with bulldog clips.
Herbert pleaded guilty to obstructing the path of a driver, contravening a police direction to move off the road, obstructing a police officer and refusing to state his full and correct name.
Police prosecutors asked for each man to be ordered to pay $917 restitution to QFRS.
Herbert objected, saying it should only be ordered if there was damage to property or injury to people.
"My conscience dictates that it is my duty to follow our ancestors and do peaceful civil disobedience when our lives are threatened by the government or its laws,'' he said.
Magistrate Mark Nolan said he took into account Herbert's early pleas of guilty and that he had voluntarily spent several days in custody.
Mr Nolan said everyone had the right to protest and make statements about their beliefs, but the law required everyone to abide by it.
He fined Herbert $600, and did not record a conviction. Mr Nolan refused to order restitution to QFRS, saying the paperwork was insufficient.
Auch pleaded guilty to causing an obstruction to drivers, contravening a police direction and obstructing police and was fined $500, with no conviction recorded.
When Auch told Magistrate Terry Quinn that he had not enjoyed making people angry by disrupting traffic, Mr Quinn said: "I disagree.''
Mr Quinn said he had seen Auch looking around the court, looking very happy with himself.
"I have formed the opinion you are enjoying the limelight,'' the magistrate told him.
Auch, who recently graduated with an environmental science degree, said he felt such a protest was a small impact on people's lives compared to a catastrophic climate emergency.
Mr Quinn told Auch his protest could have prevented people, including pregnant women or doctors, from going to hospital.
Mr Quinn also took into account the time Auch, who had no previous convictions, had spent in custody and did not order a conviction or restitution.
While Herbert and Auch were in custody Extinction Rebellion staged a city protest on Thursday, which resulted in several arrests.
Auch said outside court he was released from prison at 1am the following day.
Originally published as Extinction Rebellion activists avoid compo for CBD mayhem