This morning, Mark Øvland (pictured far right) was one of six activists who used a fire engine to spray fake blood over the front of the Treasury Building in London. Mark is already awaiting a Crown Court trial for an action on the Docklands Light Railway during the April Rebellion. Last week, after appearing in […]
The post [url=https://rebellion.earth/2019/10/03/mark-ovland-what-my-heart-was-asking-of-me/]Mark Øvland: What my Heart Was Asking of Me[/url] appeared first on [url=https://rebellion.earth/]Extinction Rebellion[/url].
Mark Øvland: What my Heart Was Asking of MeThis morning, Mark Øvland (pictured far right) was one of six activists who used a fire engine to spray fake blood over the front of the Treasury Building in London. Mark is already awaiting a Crown Court trial for an action on the Docklands Light Railway during the April Rebellion. Last week, after appearing in Magistrates Court on yet another charge, for a protest in February against International Petroleum Week, Mark wrote this post on his Facebook page.
I have a funny feeling this will be my last post for a while.
It’s rather long, and I don’t expect many people to read it. It’s really just meant for those of you who have expressed an interest in my ongoing court cases, as this week, finally, our ‘Petroleum 9’ case reached its conclusion. Well, almost. The trial is over but we’re yet to be sentenced.
On Wednesday we were back in court, this time at City of London Magistrates’. Six of us were still to give our defences, including me, and that made it a very long day. By the time we left, shortly before 7pm, most of us were struggling to stay awake or focussed. The judge also. But aside from a few hours of rather infuriating nit-picking it was actually pretty interesting, and needless to say very moving to hear everyone speak and give their evidence. We’re all quite different from one another and each of us brought something quite unique to the stand. We thought quaintly afterwards that together we’re a little like a 9-coloured rainbow
When my turn came to testify, I found that my chest was pounding, and I asked the judge if I could have a few moments just to stand quietly and listen to what my heart was asking of me. After a short pause I told him that I felt I needed to speak freely, that I didn’t wish to be constrained by my barrister’s questioning. When he told me that wasn’t possible, that, being legally represented as I was, I was required simply to answer the questions put to me, I asked him in that case whether I could instruct my barrister to stand down, and to represent myself for the remainder of the trial. That was acceptable apparently, so that’s what I did, but it was all way more dramatic than it needed to have been. Especially with one very kind and elderly member of the court staff coming over to check in with me about my mental health, and to see if I was feeling okay. I thanked her and assured her I was perfectly sane, it was just that I felt a strong need to speak from my heart, openly and freely.
The following day we were only due back for the afternoon, to finish with the closing statements. As a self-representer I now had the opportunity to offer one of these myself, and took the chance gladly. These closing arguments are, I gather, supposed only to address specific legal technicalities in one’s defence, the reasons one believes that according to the letter of the law one shouldn’t be found guilty. I decided to take a different approach and might well have been shut down by a different judge, but ours was very accommodating and heard me out. He had shown that same generosity throughout the trial, keen that we were each able to say what we wanted to say, and that’s something we were all very grateful to him for. It would never have crossed my mind to share what I said, but as we left the court a few of my co-defendants and members of the public gallery suggested I tried to write it up, in case others might find it helpful or interesting to hear. I don’t know about that, but on their request, and for what it’s worth, I’ve done my best to recreate it below. I think I’ve added in a couple elements from my speech the day before too, just to make it able to stand by itself.
Once all the closing arguments had been made the judge told us all that he didn’t wish to make a snap decision on our guilt, or otherwise, and had a busy few weeks ahead of him, so wouldn’t be able to sentence us until 7th October, when we’d all be due back in court to hear his verdict. We told him that wasn’t the best day for us, and thankfully he agreed to make it the 9th instead.
So we’re almost there. It’s been quite a drawn-out journey, this one..
Much like this post. If anyone’s still reading this, I salute your stamina!
As I said, this is likely to be my last post for a while, so may I just wish you a very beautiful and meaningful time ahead, and joy and stillness in your heart.
Every one of you is amazing.
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