A judge has branded a climate protester – who stopped freight trains by hanging himself over the tracks – as a “public nuisance”.
Emma Dorge, who told the media she prefers she/them pronouns, was arrested in March after attending an unauthorized protest by environmental group Blockade Australia to disrupt a freight line to Port Botany in south-east Sydney.
On March 25, the 26-year-old hung herself from a mast above the freight train to raise awareness of climate change and posted pictures of herself on social media.
It was part of a series of protests by the activist group that sparked traffic chaos at the industrial site.
Emergency services rushed to a section of the freight line, which runs across a canal on Qantas Drive in Tempe, after Dorge hung himself from a pole above the rail line.
According to court documents, Dorge and other protesters “erected two poles on the railroad” before live-streaming themselves hanging from the poles using a harness.
The railway authorities were forced to stop all trains running on the railway line because Dorge was suspended three meters high.
Police asked them to dismount, but Dorge didn’t comply and asked officers to use an excavator to get the perpetrator down.
Last week, Dorge pleaded guilty to obstructing a railway locomotive or rolling stock, remaining in a fenced-in property without a lawful excuse and refusing to comply with police orders.
The 26-year-old stood before Downing Center Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, where Judge Miranda Moody blasted the climate activist for her conduct.
“Here we are again, Mr. Davis; Another one of those people with their hearts in the right place is an absolute nuisance,” Ms Moody said.
“Dumping up resources and police rescue that could be used for other people.”
Ms Moody said that while “anyone with a brain” understands the science behind climate change, they don’t support “people like your customers”.
Dorge’s lawyer, Mark Davis, told the court that there was a “sense of anger and outrage” in Sydney this year over protest activity.
But he argued the perpetrator’s cause was before major events like Deanna “Violet” Coco blocked the Sydney Harbor Bridge, for which she was sentenced to jail.
Ms Moody said she had seen “many” cases like this, which had sparked protests outside the court.
“We don’t quell protests… go to Hyde Park and do it peacefully,” the judge said as Dorge shook his head.
“She’s just a nuisance… a public nuisance.”
Mr Davis said his client accepted the facts but asked the court not to “dramatize” the event.
The court heard Dorge had no criminal record in NSW but had been convicted of two similar offenses in Queensland.
Ms Moody said she intends to convict the perpetrator.
“You can’t go into court and say, ‘I’m a good person, I can’t be convicted’ … when all these good people have to bring you down and are in danger,” she said.
Mr Davis argued Dorge’s actions were all acts of “good faith” and were not violent or caused public harm.
He submitted a letter of apology from Dorge, saying they wanted to get back into nursing and move to Lismore.
Ms Moody told the court she understood Dorge’s emphasis on climate change and said she “is not mocking her”.
“She said it was scary and intimidating to face the police… I have no sympathy; She’s the one who put herself in the position where the police had to find and rescue her,” Ms Moody said.
“A lot of these people have their hearts in the right place … they think harassing the public by climbing poles is the only type of activity that will get the attention of the community.”
Mr Davis asked the judge to consider the 36 hours they spent in custody at Surry Hills Police Station.
“Let that give her a taste of what’s to come,” Ms. Moody said, prompting Dorge to roll her eyes and scoff.
“Don’t roll your eyes and grin at me, don’t be smart.”
Ms Moody said she had no doubt Dorge would protest again as she had the “passion in her veins” for the cause.
Dorge was convicted, fined a total of $330 and conditionally released to 12 months.
Outside the court, Mr Davis said the sentence was “appropriate”, despite the judge’s harsh words and despite entering the court with “great concern” at Coco’s recent conviction.
Speaking to the media, Dorge said courts and judges are “politicizing” the issue and “punishing people” who try to bring about serious change.
“I got a CRO and a small fine, so it’s not that bad,” they said.
When asked if Dorge thought they were a public nuisance, they said it was “ridiculous” as no one from the public was affected by their actions.
“She mentioned the Sydney Harbor Bridge; She obviously brought her own political opinion to the case,” they said.
Originally released as a climate protester slammed by magistrate for Port Botany stunt