King’s PhD student imprisoned for civil disobedience in campaign against air pollution
An open letter to Sadiq Khan was posted on his account urging the mayor to meet with him
Current PhD student Roger Hallam has been notorious on London's activist stomping grounds since late 2016. He first came to the Tab's attention for his involvement in the King's Climate Change Emergency campaign, urging KCL to divest from fossil fuels.
Since that campaign's success, Hallam has become embroiled in protests across UofL campuses and throughout London. From picketings to roadblocks to hunger strikes, he's made Tab headlines over and over again for causes such as improved working conditions and wages for campus cleaners, less job outsourcing at various universities, and climate change.
Most recently, Hallam has helped lead a number of protests against air pollution in London. The Stop Killing Londoners' campaign has been setting up roadblocks since late August 2017. The roadblocks, often dispersed by police, have led to several arrests and finally the imprisonment of Stuart Basden (35), Ian Bray (50), Roger Hallam (51) and Genny Scherer (71).
A spokesperson for Hallam posted the following letter on his account, addressed to Mayor Sadiq Khan and detailing his requests from jail:
Dear Sadiq Khan,
My name is Roger Hallam and I’m 51 years old. I have run ethical businesses for 25 years. I have organised people in various social movements for 35 years. I have children and I have a mortgage. I was brought up within radical and religious traditions which helped to make this country the prosperous and tolerant society it is today. My parents were Christians and members of the Liberal Party for 50 years. They believed in the values of decency, moderation and hard work.
I am writing to tell you that this tradition of which I am a part does not look for trouble. But when social immorality pushes past an intolerable limit, it springs into political action. I wish to tell you that this point has now been passed.
We have been witnessing the social murder of thousands of our citizens in London and other UK citizens for over a decade due toxic air pollution. A whole generation of innocent children is having their lungs poisoned, condemning them to a lifetime of suffering and the prospect of premature death. This grave crime has been declared illegal and political and cooperate leaders are liable for their inaction.
While these politicians and executives remain at liberty, I am writing this letter to you from inside a London prison cell where I am incarcerated for 23.5 hours a day. I and other campaigners are here because, despite repeated requests, you have as yet not agreed to a short meeting with us. In protest, we painted messages on the outside of your place of work, at City Hall. The response has been imprisonment. We are now on hunger strike and we are suffering as a result. I came into prison with a virus and bad cough and when I stand up, I feel faint. Tomorrow, I will be seeing the prison nurse.
Mister Khan, I do not know you personally, but I believe that you are a moral and intelligent man. You will be aware, therefore, that the air pollution scandal is just a tip of the climate change iceberg. That the scientists have proven beyond doubt that our civilisation is heading for imminent collapse unless there is an immediate drastic cut in fossil fuel consumption. This is not a matter of speculation but hard scientific fact. We are out of time. This great city which has thrived for over 2,000 years is set to be permanently flooded in the next 30 years. The arctic ice sheet will be totally melted in the summer in the next 5 years. We will then face an exponential increase in devastating, extreme weather events. The British state and society faces the prospect of bankruptcy and collapse.
Sir, this is not the time for idling, like Nero did as Rome burned. This is the time for emergency action. Your choice is to act with honour and integrity or lead your fellow citizens into the abyss with only the smooth words of your PR advisors to comfort them.
You like to see yourself as a man of the people, the son of a bus driver and as a Muslim. You will know then that God rewards the righteous and condemns the conceited. We, therefore, simply request from you as London Mayor a short face-to-face meeting to convey our demands for action. We look forward to hearing back from you at the earliest opportunity. Thank you for your time in reading this letter.
Roger Hallam 10/10/17
Stop Killing Londoners – Cut Air Pollution!
A Rising Up! Campaign
*Update: Hallam and his fellow campaigners have since been released with a fine of £385 each, no conditions.*