South Africa: Civil Disobedience in a Time of Climate Crisis


Last week, I decided to get arrested for the first time in my life. As a person who has believed in the power and rule of law as a force for good throughout my 25-year career as a lawyer, this was no small decision.

I firmly believe in the role and importance of civil disobedience as a critical strategy in social change movements - I grew up in the United States where the actions of people like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks are celebrated, and even romanticised. But, as a human rights lawyer, I have always felt that getting arrested and breaking the law was not my role.

Katie Radford is arrested during the fourth Fire Drill Friday. Photo supplied: Greenpeace

I reasoned that I was more useful to the human rights movement as a lawmaker, not a law breaker - as an "upstanding member of society" with a clean rap sheet. In my work at EarthRights, for example, when you go up against corporations like Chevron, Shell, or Chiquita, they'll use anything against you - and I never wanted to give them the ammo that, "oh, these are just a bunch of rabble rousing lawyers who will do...

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