Magistrate commends ‘noble’ NSW activist after Woodside protest

Magistrate commends ‘noble’ NSW activist after Woodside protest

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A high-profile NSW activist has accused WA Police of enacting their own justice after spending a night behind bars for defacing a police station with Woodside’s logo only to be lauded by a Perth magistrate.

Deanna “Violet” CoCo was hit with a $200 fine and a $500 damage bill after spray-painting four yellow Woodside Energy logos across the front of Perth Police Station on Wednesday and attempting to glue herself to the window.

Deanna “Violet” CoCo was hit with a $200 fine and a $500 damage bill after spray-painting four yellow Woodside Energy logos across the front of Perth Police Station.Credit: Jesinta Burton

The 32-year-old spent the night behind bars after being arrested and denied bail over the protest, which was part of an ongoing campaign against the energy giant’s $50 billion mega-project on the Burrup Peninsula.

But CoCo was met with a different reception when she arrived in Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday, where Magistrate Matthew Walton commended her for her strong views and reiterated the importance of peaceful protest for a functioning democracy.

He acknowledged CoCo had gone “too far” on Wednesday and encouraged her to continue her pursuits within the confines of the law.

“It’s a fundamental tenet of western democracy, a functioning democracy … it should be supported,” he told the court.

“You don’t have to go too far abroad to see the restrictions on personal freedoms and activism.

“In a lot of regards you should be commended, however, you breached the law.”

“I encourage to you to do it but you should be encouraged to do it in a lawful manner. It should be something held to be very precious to all of us.”

Outside court, the 32-year-old said she believed there to be a growing disparity between the treatment of protesters by the police and the judiciary and applauded Magistrate Walton for his decision.

“The magistrate is right, peaceful protesters should not be criminalised, especially when it comes to environmental causes and protecting our planet and the Burrup” she said.

“I think we’re seeing a real split in the police enacting their own justice separate from the judiciary.

“We should be encouraged to protest, as the magistrate said, it’s such an important part of democracy.”

She also flagged concerns about the police raid on the home of Pilbara journalist Eliza Kloser, who WAtoday revealed was inadvertently caught up in a police investigation into her housemate and had photographs of sacred rock art seized.

Violet Coco sprays the Woodside logo in yellow paint on the front of the Perth Police Centre in protest at the escalating police crackdown on climate protest in WA.Credit: Twitter

CoCo was joined by Perth artist Joanna Partyka, who was found guilty of the same offence after branding the perspex covering Frederick McCubbin’s iconic 1889 painting Down on His Luck with Woodside’s trademark while staging a protest in the Art Gallery of WA.

The 32-year-old made national headlines in April 2022 after parking a truck on Sydney Harbour Bridge and blocking traffic during peak hour as part of a climate change demonstration. She became the first person charged under NSW’s toughened anti-protest laws, but had her 15-month prison sentence quashed after the District Court heard she had been jailed based on false information from police.

Activist group Disrupt Burrup Hub on Wednesday said CoCo’s actions at the police station were an act of solidarity with local campaigners targeted by police amid an escalating crackdown on protesters.

With AAP

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