A 22-Year-Old Climate Activist Will Spend A Year In Jail For A Peaceful Protest In NSW

"So it's 12 months jail for stopping a coal train temporarily, but you can blow up an Indigenous cultural site no worries."

Blockade Australia Arrest

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

A 22-year-old climate activist has been sentenced to a year in prison for peacefully protesting in NSW.

Eric ‘Sergio’ Herbert from Blockade Australia was arrested last week for stopping a freight train in the Hunter region, taking direct action as part of an extended campaign from the resistance group to disrupt operations at the world’s largest coal port.

“Sergio is a determined young individual who realises that our most effective way to halt Australia in its tracks and force change, is to get in the way,” Blockade Australia wrote on Wednesday, November 10.

His charges centred on obstructing a train and attempting to “hinder working of mining equipment”, according to court reports. Nearly 30 people associated with Blockade Australia have been arrested this month around the port.

Herbert, described by the ABC as a “serial climate change protestor”, was also arrested in 2019 for locking himself to a car in Brisbane’s CBD as part of an Extinction Rebellion stunt.

Protestors have been suspending themselves from coal rail lines, bridges, and the machinery that loads and unloads coal at the Port of Newcastle since November 5. Last week, police threatened the activists with the prospect of 25 years in jail if they kept up their antics, while NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller started Strike Force Tuohy to address the disruptions.

Aggressive penalties for climate protestors in NSW were first introduced in 2016 under the Baird Government, which made “aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands” a new offence, as an extra protection to stop anti-mine groups taking action.

The Port of Newcastle is a multibillion-dollar coal supply site that alongside mines, also transports 150-million tonnes of coal to power plants across the country annually. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said last Monday that the industry had lost $60 million in exports, before attempting to insult the protestors by assuming they were unemployed.

“We’re taking our future back,” said Herbert. “When Australia decides it’s going to destroy its people through ecocide, the people will rise up.”

Photo: Blockade Australia/Twitter