Several hundred people demonstrated outside Preston Prison in support of three men who last week became the first people in the UK to be jailed for taking part in an anti-fracking protest.
Campaigners shouted “Free the Three” as they marched through the city centre to the prison where the men are being held.
Richard Roberts and Simon Roscoe Blevins were jailed for 16 months and Rich Loizou for 15 months by a judge at Preston Crown Court. They had been convicted of causing a public nuisance after taking part in a 99-hour lorry surfing protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool in July 2017.
Julian Brock, the fourth man who took part in the protest, was given a one-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty.
The organisers of the today’s event estimated about 500 people took part.
Platon Loizou, Rich Loizou’s father, who joined the demonstration, said:
“I’m amazed that so many people have come from so far just to show their support. These boys went on a demonstration, there was no violence, there was no damage and they ended up getting a 15 and 16-month sentence. It is unbelievable.”
Cllr Miranda Cox, of Kirkham Town Council, said:
“We feel that the sentencing was quite unfair, unjust, very unprecedented and so this is a turning point for the campaign against fracking in Lancashire and across the country.”
Anti-fracking campaigner, Leigh Coghill, said:
“It is an outrage and a scandal that three men are currently sat behind bars for the supposed crime of public nuisance for sitting quietly on top of a lorry.
“This is an emergency: fracking is imminent, our opposition has been broad and unrelenting, and individuals such as the frack-free four decided to take civil disobedience because democracy has been exhausted. Their imprisonment is inappropriate, not in the public interest, and an appeal is ongoing.”
Yesterday, lawyers for the three men in prison confirmed they would be appealing against the sentences (DrillOrDrop report). Also yesterday, the number of signatures on an open letter calling for a review of the sentences reached more than 1,000 (DrillOrDrop report).