The Heathrow 13 are the only role models that count for my generation
My name is Anna, I’m 20 and I’m angry about what’s happening to the environmental activists known as the Heathrow 13. They’ve been promised a prison sentence for their direct action blocking Heathrow’s North runway in a protest against aviation expansion. They’re going to be sentenced in Willesden Magistrate’s Court, London, tomorrow and I want you to know why I think that you should support them and join me and hundreds of others outside that court at 9am.
They were making a peaceful and powerful statement against my generation’s future being a death sentence due to catastrophic climate change. I’ve only just started my life in terms of being an adult and planning my future. Every day I’m constantly surrounded by material ‘goals’. Young people’s lives are saturated with celebrity’s bum size and music about how terrible women are. We’re told about the doom of unemployment and how our generation will not be able to own our own property, so we must work silly hours for rubbish pay and hate our lives so that we can survive. Yet we’re not being told that all of those things are a waste of time anyway because our futures are being wrecked by the money hording corporations and rich elite who are destroying the planet for profit while doing nothing about climate change.
I wanted to get a proper understanding of what ‘guilty’ actually meant in the context of a sentencing, so I looked it up. I was shocked that the words, ‘retribution’, ‘moral’ and ‘deterring people from an activity’ were in the descriptions. I would like to ask how is it that sending 13 people to prison for highlighting immoral doings is morally justifiable? Building another runway is immoral when aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and the air pollution around Heathrow is at an eight year high right now. By 2050, aviation will be the biggest contributor to climate change. That’s my 2050, not the 2050 of all the people who are currently profiting by keeping business as usual.
I looked up the purpose of prison, I wanted to make sure it didn’t say ‘to lock people up who have a voice and shout out against destruction caused by corporations.’ It said there are three purposes: retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation. ‘Retribution’ means punishment for crimes against society. Well I don’t see the bankers who have caused our economic crisis in prison or the corporations that continually avoid paying their taxes, which just means cuts, cuts and more cuts for our generation. These are real crimes against society, why are they free but the Heathrow 13 being told they will go to prison for trying to save my generation’s future? ‘Deterrence’ is to stop people from committing crimes. I know that’s why they are sending these 13 to prison, to try and scare them from doing it again and to destroy their passion. But this is an inspiration, not deterrence because we can all see that direct action is acting responsibly when those who should act, burry their head in the sand. The last purpose is ‘rehabilitation’ but those 13 people are already the best that society can offer, they don’t need rehabilitating, the judge does and all who want to poison my future.
I work in prisons a lot and I see how messed up the system is, prison isn’t for these three purposes anymore, it’s a place to crush peoples’ souls and take away their voices. The Heathrow 13 committed a ‘crime’ against corporations, not society, that is why they are being threatened with prison. Continuing to pollute the air, water and land for profit is violence against society.
The more I write this the more proud I feel of the Heathrow 13. That was not civil disobedience that they did in June last year, that was taking civil responsibility. It is irresponsible of the court to allow businesses to take away my generations’ future and happiness away, just to line the pockets of big business.
The boys who go to prison will be locked up in a cell for 23 hours of the day and the girls will be less, but still locked up for the majority of the day. But their days won’t be filled with doom and ‘deterrence’ because we will write to them, we will visit them and we will be at the gate when they get out. My generation will always support them and will always be grateful to them for caring about us when the government and the corporations they seem to work for don’t care about us at all and act as if our future doesn’t matter at all.
We have now found real role models to look up to, not the fake celebrities that the media force on us. I really hope the Heathrow 13 and Plane Stupid all get to read this and know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your compassion, bravery and humanity.
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