Australia- Astor Legal Blog: Backlash After Climate Activist Jailed for Stopping Coal Train

A family who rose to fame on Instagram have defended the actions of their climate activist brother who climbed a train to disrupt the coal industry.

Eric Serge Herbert, a 22-year-old from the Sunshine Coast, was jailed for his actions when he appeared at Newcastle Local Court.

His triplet sisters Renee and Elisha Herbert have slammed the sentence, claiming that their brother stood up “climate injustice”.

He will be eligible for parole in May 2022.

Eric Herbert Jailed for Criminal Charges

Eric Herbert was jailed for an overall term of twelve months with a non-parole period of six months. His sisters’ labelled the Court’s decision “deeply disturbing”.

The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to obstructing a rail locomotive, attempting to hinder the working of mining equipment and attempting to assist in the obstruction of a rail locomotive.

On Monday, he was sentenced to 12 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of six months, in Newcastle Court House.

Renee Herbert and Elisha Herbert Speak Out

His sisters, Renee Herbert and Elisha Herberthighlighted his case on their Instagram profiles. They each have millions of followers through their modelling and design careers.

The pair claimed their brother was silenced due to his position on climate action, and he has been prevented from speaking to his girlfriend while behind bars.

“This is so deeply disturbing for anyone close to see Eric, a passionate leader and activist for humans, animals and our earth behind bars,” said Renee Herbert in a lengthy post.

“He is the courageous person we need to stand up against climate injustice. All he wants is justice and peace for the world like all of us.”

Eric Herbert History of Climate Activism

Eric Herbert had a proud history of climate activism according to Renee Herbert. She wrote that her brother had quit university to become a full-time activist.

The 22-year-old has appeared before courts previously over his involvement in a series of Extinction Rebellion protests, although these appearances were mostly in Queensland.

Renne wrote, “Eric has been involved in multiple protests and has been involved in leading the extinction rebellion actions in Australia, but has never put ANYONE in danger. But of course when he stops a coal train that costs the government $$$ they want to lock him up so he isn’t a problem.”

“Maybe if they stop imprisoning and silencing climate activists and started paying attention to the climate damage that they condone, young aware individuals wouldn’t feel the moral obligation to do this in the first place. We’re shouting at the top of our lungs at this point, begging for someone to hear, and all you’re doing is silencing us. As a sister of a loving, caring sweet and passionate man, I demand justice for Eric. This is just wrong and deeply upsetting.”

Elisha Herbert also spoke out, writing, “People who are saying, ‘if you commit a crime, going to jail is justice’, have a think of these people who were courageous enough to know the consequences and still ‘commit’ the crime for a better world.”

The sisters have a combined 3.3 million followers on the platform. They have shared details of a rally in support of their brother in Brisbane.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna suggested that the sentence was appropriate. The told media outlets that the maximum penalty for the offence was “commensurate with the level of danger and criminality we are now seeing … they’re entering rail corridors with moving trains, not just coal trains”.