Christian arrested during Extinction Rebellion defends breaking the law

Phil Kingston, second from left, with other Christian Climate Action protesters on top of a train at Canary Wharf(Photo: Christian Climate Action)

A Christian pensioner who was arrested during the Extinction Rebellion climate protests says he had no other choice but to break the law to make those in power take action on climate change.

Phil Kingston, 83, said that as a former parole officer, he did not take breaking the law "lightly". 

He was arrested alongside other Christian Climate Action members after climbing onto the roof of a DLR train in London's financial district, Canary Wharf. 

The protesters sang hymns and held a prayer vigil on top of the train as they tried to disrupt access to the financial district which they say is playing a "catastrophic role" in climate change.

They also held up banners saying "Don't jail the canaries" and "business as usual = death". 

Mr Kingston was protesting as part of the Extinction Rebellion that has disrupted parts of London for the past few weeks.  He and four other activists were taken to Brewery Road Police Station before being released on Friday. 

He said his activism was peaceful and motivated by his Christian faith.

"I don't like having to break the law, I used to be a parole officer so I don't do this lightly. But what other option do we have?" he said. 

"We've tried marching and signing petitions and we're still off track. Emissions continue to rise. How can I look my grandchildren in the eye and not do everything I can to ensure we don't leave them a messed up world?

"It's an issue of intergenerational justice. The next generation are going to have to pay our climate debts and that just isn't fair." 

He said that he was the "perfect age" to have run-ins with the law because he didn't have a career to think about.

"I don't need to worry about an arrest making my CV look bad. I'm long past the need for one of those," he said. 

He continued: "Being a Christian is about sharing the love of God with others. Although the people at Canary Wharf may not appreciate it, this was an act of love for my children and grandchildren, and for the children and grandchildren of the people working at Canary Wharf too."

Richard Barnard, 45, who also took part in the Canary Wharf protest, told commuters on the platform that the protest was an act of solidarity with millions of people who have been affected by climate change. 

"We would really rather not be here but the ravaging of God's creation calls us to do something, anything to stop this headlong rush into extinction on the back of the myth of financial progress and growth and business as usual," he said. 

He added: "In solidarity with Rebels who have been put on remand for pointing out our house is ablaze, in solidarity with the millions of lives, human and otherwise already being directly and adversely affected by climate breakdown we act again and will continue to do so, according to our consciences and the overwhelming evidence, both scientific and experiential in order to highlight the truth of these times that God's beautiful creation is being destroyed."