A Sydney climate demonstrator who was imprisoned for obstructing rush-hour traffic on the Harbour Bridge has been released on bail awaiting an appeal.
Deanna ‘Violet’ Maree Coco was given a 15-month term in December for her participation in an April protest that disrupted morning rush-hour traffic.
To raise awareness about climate change, the 32-year-old was part of a two-car convoy that obstructed traffic on the bridge.
The Crown rejected bail on Tuesday at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court, citing concerns that the climate activist will not appear in court and jeopardize the safety of the community.
Prosecutors also demanded curfews if the activist were to be granted conditional parole.
Violet Coco was sentenced to a maximum of 15 months in prison for her Sydney Harbour Bridge protest.
Premier of New South Wales Domenic Perrottet told reporters on Monday that he was ‘pleased’ with Ms Coco’s sentence, calling it ‘not severe’ and stating that the protestor had ‘inconvenienced people.’
Mr. Perrottet stated, “If demonstrators wish to endanger our way of life, then they should be punished accordingly, and it’s gratifying to see that this is the case.”
Sophie McNeill, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, deemed Mr. Perrottet’s remarks “unbelievable.”
Ms. McNeill wrote, “It is unbelievable that Dom Perrottet finds it “pleasant” that a peaceful climate activist was sentenced to eight months in prison.”
Premier of New South Wales Domenic Perrottet (pictured) told reporters last week that he was ‘pleased’ with Ms Coco’s sentence, adding that she ‘inconvenienced people’
As he granted her bail, Judge Timothy Gartelmann disregarded the Crown’s arguments, citing a surety payment and the fact that she had not violated her previous bail conditions as mitigating factors.
Ms. Coco must reside at a designated residence until December 29 and cannot approach the Sydney Harbour Bridge within one kilometer.
Once the activist returns to Lismore, she will not be permitted to enter Greater Sydney unless she is attending court.
She must report weekly to the police and submit any travel documents.
Ms Coco (shown above) will be required to return to Lismore by the end of the month and will be prohibited from coming to Greater Sydney until she files an appeal of her sentence on March 15.
For violating traffic regulations by impeding traffic, holding a flare in a public place, and refusing police commands, she was sentenced to a non-parole period of eight months, concluding on July 31, 2023.
Ms. Coco was also fined $2500 for burning a flare atop a bridge-parked truck.
Human rights organizations have labeled the protester’s imprisonment as “vengeful judicial action” that restricts the ability to engage in peaceful protest.
The NSW government established regulations earlier in the year to penalise disruptive climate protests, with activists facing fines of up to $22,000 and two years in prison.
Ms. Coco is appealing her sentence, which will be reviewed on March 15 in District Court.