This time one year ago, by Tina Rothery
This time one year ago, by Tina Rothery
This time one year ago, I was looking at the bag I’d packed for my two-weeks in prison. Court was in the morning and unless I agreed to sign agreeing my financial situation and agree to pay Cuadrilla £55,000 (cost of an eviction that wasn’t a physical eviction – just on paper), then I would be ‘In Contempt’ and go to prison for the sentence. I had ended up in this situation because I refused to engage with this ab use of our court system, for UNjust reasons. This was Cuadrilla taking the piss… sending a message, making an example and using our courts, twisting our laws and abusing true justice, to do it. If the debt had been a single pound, my stance would have been the same. I felt strongly that my engagement would have legitimised this as a ‘case’ at all and would have taken me into their dirty world and its corrupted charades.
I’d pretty much accepted the fate of prison and reasoned that lots of people suffer far worse and that if I was in another part of the world standing against big industry, I probably wouldn’t be standing anymore. It was what it was and the beauty of our movement had cushioned me within a deep comforting cloud of warm humanity that is just indescribable. The support was everything and the rest of the world, the system and the threats – miniscule, meaningless and petty by comparison.
George had put up an event so that people could do court support and it mushroomed as masses of fellow activists saw the injustice and abuse of the system too and sent messages of support. A hashtag to show others related and felt what happened to me, would easily be them too came about – #IamTinaToo. Seeing it on a tree in Thailand, a T-shirt outside the White House and on the chests of those I am honoured to walk with in this movement – is the strangest of things to be part of. Attention is not easy to handle and not all crave it… it was at times overwhelming. It’s a paradox though that I became less me, the more of ‘me’ there was… hard to clarify but I was just one of many and for me the hashtag was #IamActivist.
This part of the year has a happy ending…
The judge did not seem pleased with Cuadrilla (few who interact with them, find them reasonable or professional) and made clear to their reluctant lawyer that the amount of the costs seemed disproportionate. At the top of the Costs Information it says something like: “Costs may not be used to profit or punish…” and the amount of these costs was clearly going to achieve both.
The arrogance of Cuadrilla though won the day, as numerous phone calls between their lawyer and them, brought back stubborn answers to an equally stubborn judge. The judge concluded that the amount could not be demanded from me (though the debt still exists) unless I came into a “lottery win or large inheritance”… I still wasn’t happy as I would still not pay them even if I did have millions. He pointed out that should this occur, it would first have to come through court and I could do what I was doing all over again. He then asked if I’d agree my financial situation but again I did not want to sign and so he simply asked “Is everything you told me the truth?” and I replied “Yes.” (at various points I had said I was without assets and without income or benefits).
And case concluded.
That I walked out of the front door of the court house, rather than the back… meant I fell into a sea of elation and rode on waves of shared relief …rather than falling into a police van and riding on roads of dread. There was a tangible ‘Whoosh!’ as the doors opened and I thought about being a sieve and letting it wash through,rather than stick with me; it was everyone’s happy, for everyone. The rest of the day was again indescribable but the sense that activism won was what I took away – that at least today, justice wasn’t used as a weapon to attack us with.
Winning is not something we get a great deal of and it was good.
The joy of every morning waking up for 14 days, in a bed of my choosing, with freedom to make decisions and feet that could walk where they wandered… is something worth experiencing to truly appreciate moments.
To all who share this memory… thank you for making it sheer brilliance – human hearts shine bright