Home Breaking News Hunger-striking XR activist taken from police cell to hospital | UK news

Hunger-striking XR activist taken from police cell to hospital | UK news


A marine biologist held by police for more than 48 hours over a climate crisis protest was taken from her cell to hospital in an ambulance.

Emma Smart, 44, one of nine scientists affiliated with Extinction Rebellion who were arrested at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), had gone on hunger and thirst strike to protest against the conditions in which she was being held.

She was being kept in a basic windowless cell lit constantly with fluorescent light. While the other eight scientists were released on bail on Thursday, police said they would hold Smart until she could appear in court on Saturday because she had a record of breaking bail conditions.

On Friday night, police called an ambulance to Charing Cross police station to take Smart to hospital. According to her supporters, she was keen not to waste hospital resources and accepted rehydration treatment, then was taken back into police custody. She was released on Saturday after appearing at Westminster magistrates court.

Smart was one of a group of 25 scientists who protested at the BEIS building in Westminster on Wednesday. They pasted poster-sized pages from climate science papers on to the glass facade, and some, including Smart, glued their hands to the window and used spray chalk to daub extinction symbols on the glass.

Scientists rally for XR member held by police after climate protest – videoScientists rally for XR member held by police after climate protest – video

The Metropolitan police said she had been charged with criminal damage. The force said: “Smart was arrested at the scene and charged the following day. She was remanded in custody to appear at Westminster magistratescourt at the first opportunity. Due to the courts being closed on bank holidays, the date of that appearance is Saturday 16 April.

“Decisions regarding bail are taken on a case-by-case basis and consider a range of matters including, but not limited to, whether there is a risk to the public or the person detained, the likelihood of someone not complying with any bail conditions or absconding and any previous history of offending while on bail.

“Whilst people are in custody, officers have a duty of care for their welfare and will ensure the medical needs of all detainees are considered. Healthcare professionals are available to each custody suite.”

On Friday, Peter Kalmus, the Nasa climate scientist who has taken part in scientists’ climate crisis protests in the US, offered his support to Smart and called on others to join civil disobedience protests.

“My heart goes out to Emma, she’s in the next level of risk. I’m grateful for what she’s doing and I hope that the world starts to support her,” Kalmus said. “The best way to support Emma is to start taking civil disobedience actions yourself. Because as more and more of us start to take these sorts of actions, the risk for all of us starts to decrease.

“To the governments that are imprisoning Emma and are trying to shut down this kind of protest: you’re on the wrong side of history and it’s absolutely clear now.”

Smart has a history of environmental activism, having taken part in high-profile protests with Insulate Britain.