POLICE have slammed this week’s anti-coal protests after three people risked their lives by trespassing on the rail line and halting trains.
The three separate incidents, instigated by Frontline Action on Coal, caused major disruption for the Hunter’s coal trains. They shut the rail line at Sandgate, effectively blocking movements in and out of Newcastle port.
“Trespassing on the train tracks could result in serious injury or death,” Newcastle City Police District Commander Superintendent Brett Greentree said.
“I cannot believe some people are willing to take that risk.
“They are not only putting themselves at risk, but the personnel and police who have to go in to retrieve them.”
On Monday university student Sarah Barron kicked-off the week of disruptions when she suspended herself over the rail line at Sandgate using a makeshift tripod. She was one of three people arrested and charged under anti-protest laws.
On Wednesday a Newcastle teenager also suspended himself in the same location. The 17 year old, along with a 22-year-old man, were arrested at the scene and later charged with several trespass and obstruction offences.
By Friday the anti-coal campaign was ramped up and a young Frontline Action on Coal activist, identified as Ceder Grey, locked herself on to the side of a coal train.
“I’m scared, I want a future, I want to be able to live in this world and not face the effects of polluted air, polluted water, not live in a toxic wasteland,” a statement from Ceder read.
It took the work of police rescue and the bomb disposal unit to remove the woman. The 18-year-old was uninjured and was arrested and charged.
The protests were promotions for the group’s Newcastle meet up next week, when activists are expected to setup camp in the city.
“We respect an individual’s right to protest and voice an opinion,” Supt Greentree said.
“But when actions turn violent or criminal, police will be swift in their response.”
According to Supt Greentree the local police have attempted to work with Frontline Action on Coal on safe and legal activism, but have been unsuccessful.
“They are not willing, at this point in time, to engage with us,” he said.
“It’s very disappointing.”
Permits will be lodged for next week’s protests, a group spokeswoman said.