Reflections on sentencing
On the 24th of February, we - the Heathrow 13 - were sentenced to 6 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, with an additional 120 to 180 hours community service on top. Whilst we are happy to not be in prison right now, this is far from a complete victory.
Yet, we should reflect on this as a form of privilege. There are over 85,000 people in prison in the UK, not including immigration detention centres, secure children's homes or those detained under the Mental Health Act. Those imprisoned are disproportionately from poor, minority backgrounds and are likely to have suffered various forms of abuse in their lives. Vulnerable people are the ones being targeted by the judicial system. These people are highly unlikely to be able to gain the same kind of support a high profile privileged group such as ours could.
That's not to say, however, that these groups of people are mere passive 'victims'. Take for instance, the recent, horrific case of Sarah Reed. As well as dealing with the grief of this horrific treatment, Sarah Reed's family are campaigning for justice, along with the families of many of the other 827 people who following contact with the police between 2004 and 2013, and those fighting under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter. What we have been threatened with, thousands more suffer from and much worse. Our briefest of experience of this shows the importance of solidarity between different but connected campaigns.
And these issues are connected in many ways from their root causes, to the people who are affected most. For it is not only poor communities, Black and brown people and women who are treated worst by the justice system, but these are the same groups, who on a global level, are worst affected by climate change.
So, we the Heathrow 13 are free to fight another day (so long as we aren't arrested in the next 12 months), but many others are not. We should use this briefest of experiences to build solidarity with different affected groups from #BlackLivesMatter in the UK to those fighting airports in Istanbul and Atenco.
For only by trying to understand the world, and the listening to the experiences of those we wish to fight alongside, can we hope to change it for the better.