Supporters of a jailed climate protester have launched a massive crowd-funding campaign to free her as human rights groups condemn her treatment.
Shared online a day after Deanna “Violet” Coco, 31, was jailed for a minimum of eight months on Friday, a Chuffed fundraiser has raised more than $37,000 to appeal her sentence.
“If you are seeing this campaign then I have been sentenced to prison for peaceful environmental protest,” Coco wrote.
“In light of the urgency of the situation, I feel I have to do the most effective thing in bringing about political change.
“But make no mistake – I do not want to be protesting … I wish that there was another way to address this issue with the gravitas that it deserves.”
Deanna “Violet” Coco was supported by protesters outside Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on December 2. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short
Coco was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment on December 2 after driving a hire truck on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and blocking a lane during peak hour on April 13.
She live streamed the protest online, holding an emergency flair while standing on top of the truck before police forcefully removed the protesters 25 minutes later.
In her sentencing remarks, Magistrate Allison Hawkins said Coco let an “entire city suffer” with her actions, which were designed to gain “maximum exposure”.
“You do damage to your cause when you do childish stunts like this. Why should they be disrupted by your selfish emotional actions?” she said.
“You are not a political prisoner, you are a criminal.”
Coco was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment on December 2 after driving a hire truck on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and blocking a lane during peak hour. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short
Coco’s lawyer Mark Davis had sought to convince the court the protest was designed to minimise impact by only blocking one of the Cahill Expressway’s five lanes.
He said her actions were motivated by a “most prevalent anxiety” about climate change and the belief the Australian Government isn’t doing enough
immediately after Coco was jailed, Mr Davies filed a sentence appeal and requested she be given bail until the appeal could be heard.
She was refused bail on Friday and will remain in custody pending appeals.
A District Court bail application is scheduled for December 13, while the sentence appeal will be heard in March next year.
A number of high-profile people and groups have expressed outrage over the decision.
Protester jailed for blocking Harbour Bridge‘Alarmed:’ United Nations blasts Australia
United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly, Clement Voule said online: “I am alarmed at #NSW court’s prison term against #ClimateProtester Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail”.
“Peaceful protesters should never be criminalised or imprisoned,” he wrote on Twitter.