Ocean Rebellion co-founder alleges police tried to intimidate him
The co-founder of the eco activist group Ocean Rebellion has filed a complaint to police alleging that officers have tried to intimidate him before next month’s G7 summit in Cornwall.
Rob Higgs, an artist and campaigner, has alleged that at least a dozen plainclothes officers turned up unannounced at his Cornish studios, his home and his boat.
Higgs said he was away at the time but claimed police spoke to his partner and co-founder of Ocean Rebellion, Sophie Miller, and neighbours and made it clear they would be keeping an eye on them during the summit, which is centred on the village of Carbis Bay and the towns of St Ives and Falmouth.
In his complaint, Higgs wrote: “This intimidatory behaviour by police officers is completely unacceptable and is a clear breach of my human rights and of their legal obligation to facilitate peaceful protest.”
Devon and Cornwall police are expecting thousands of protesters and activists to make their voices heard at the summit.
Police have insisted they want to make sure peaceful protest can take place but have also made it clear that attempts to cause serious disruption, for example, by blocking main roads and halt leaders’ convoys will not be tolerated.
One large and obvious target for protest will be the cruiseferry MS Silja Europa, which will be anchored off Falmouth and used to house some of the hundreds of police officers who have been brought in to bolster the local force.
Higgs said on Sunday that Ocean Rebellion would be targeting the ship with “creative actions” to raise awareness of the “horrendous emissions” of such vessels. He added that the group would also take “striking, theatrical, sculptural and pyrotechnic actions on land and on water” focused on the theme of the G7 leaders being “used as puppets by big business”.
In August last year the group used guerilla advertising tactics to project films, slogans and messages, including “Turn the tide” and “Fuck this ship”, on the hull of the World, a converted ocean liner that bills itself as the largest private residential ship on the planet.
In the complaint to police, Higgs continued: “I use my professional skill as an artist, creative practitioner and sculptor, building commissions for environmental NGOs and campaign groups to communicate the climate crisis to the public and press through artistic and usually humorous site specific pop-up art performances or sculptures.
“It is absolutely not a criminal offence to be a campaigner or to take part in peaceful creative protest to highlight the terrible issues killing people and nature now all over the world.
“Devon and Cornwall police are on record as saying that with regard to the G7 summit in Cornwall, they expect and welcome protest and want protesters’ voices to be heard. The behaviour of the officers who attended runs completely counter to what senior officers have publicly stated.”
Devon and Cornwall police declined to comment.