London Airport Protesters Found Guilty but Stand by Actions

March 13, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. demonstration / ˌdɛm ənˈstreɪ ʃən / (n.) – a public show of a group’s attitude toward someone or something
Example: The group held a demonstration on the street against illegal hunting.

2. trespass /ˈtrɛs pæs/ (n.) – illegal entry into someone’s property
Example: They were arrested for trespass after breaking into the building last night. 

3. verdict / ˈvɜr dɪkt / (n.) – a decision, especially in court matters
Example: The verdict was read by the judge after both sides finished their arguments.

4. dismay / dɪsˈmeɪ / (n.) – disappointment
Example: There was dismay among the students over the results of the exam.

5. solidarity / ˌsɒl ɪˈdær ɪ ti / (n.) – a feeling of unity among members of a group
Example: The company event was meant to promote solidarity among employees.


Read the text below.
Thirteen protesters against the planned runway construction in London’s Heathrow Airport were found guilty of two crimes, but stood by their actions.

Thirteen members from the Plane Stupid campaign group took part in a demonstration in July last year. They broke into Heathrow Airport's north runway and chained themselves to railings, causing more than 20 flights to be cancelled. For their actions, the group was charged with and found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering a security-restricted zone. In her verdict, Judge Deborah Wright said that the group cost the airport an astronomical amount of money, and would most likely go to prison for the demonstration.

Danielle Paffard, one of the thirteen protesters, expressed dismay over the judge's verdict but did not regret her actions, which were done to protest climate change. The demonstration was specifically aimed against the previously-announced construction of a new runway at Heathrow. According to the group, many people die because of climate change, with Heathrow Airport as a major contributor to the issue. They said that their demonstration was meant to save lives. Furthermore, they claimed that the failure of the government to deal with climate change needed action from ordinary people like them.

Although the presiding judge commended the group for their passion for environmental concerns, her verdict is final. Nevertheless, the group enjoyed the support of dozens of people during their trial in August, including the support of Green party leader Natalie Bennett. Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven also expressed solidarity with the group, saying that while a court of law judged the group, history will judge politicians and aviation executives.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the actions of the protesters on the runway were wrong? Why or why not?
·         Do you agree with the court’s decision? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What issues do people usually protest against?
·         What are ways to peacefully protest against something?

March 13, 2016