What happens when a cat, a dog, a mouse, a rabbit, a gorilla, a walrus and a snowman accuse themselves of being bandits?
The result is that a court throws out an injunction and states the right of demonstration for the environment and public health.
This is what happened. On the 30th of November last year, 12 Greenpeace activists entered the coal power station in Brindisi (Southern Italy), Italy's biggest coal power station and the biggest polluter with its 15 million tons of CO2 produced yearly. They wanted to highlight the plan of the biggest Italian energy company, ENEL, to increase the coal energy production by 5.000 MW. This would mean adding 20 million tons of CO2 in the atmosphere every year, making it impossible for Italy to cut the 100 million tons of CO2 necessary to meet the Kyoto protocol.
Video of the action in Brindisi
A few days after, our activists received an injunction from the Police Chief which described them as "a danger to society" which banned them from the local area for the next three years. It was effectively a "no public protest" injunction in a free society. Normally, criminals or mafia affiliates are considered a "danger to society". This was the first time that Italian police used such an injunction for a peaceful demonstration.
In response to the ruling, more than 500 people showed their support to our activists by joining the online campaign "bandits for Climate". Italian, Australian, Polish, Greek, French, German, and Dutch supporters have declared themselves "banditi" and sent their picture holding an "anch'io bandito del clima" (we are all bandits too) flyer, like in a Police mugshot. Even animals and snowmen had their 5 minutes of fame.
Today the good news arrived: the Court of Lecce overturned the injunction and stated: "The demonstration had justifiable and appreciable motivations in the high environmental risk the power station poses to the whole area" ... "the action has been a reaction to the polluting threat of the power station, which negates the nature of the intrusion, which in any another case would be unacceptable".
This recognition is a great result for the climate campaign in Italy, but what surprises me the most in this story is the solidarity demonstrated by so many people that produced such creative and funny pictures and posted them on our web site. Italy is not very used to online campaigns yet and this demonstrates once again how powerful and engaging the web can be in changing the real world.
Learn more about our coal campaign in Italy on our featured story.