This morning in the Murwillumbah court I appeared to face sentencing for the obstruction charge i received at the main gate of the Barrick Gold mine at Lake Cowal last Easter Sunday.
I had faxed a guilty plea to West Wyalong - no question that i had obstructed with intent - and asked that the matter be adjourned for sentencing there.
The duty solicitor, Cameron Best, a total stranger until he interviewed me for about 2 minutes before we faced the court, gave an inspired speech noting that the matter had arisen at "an organised, non-violent protest action" which was seeking to make the public aware of environmental concerns (water was specifically mentioned) and oppose the expansion of the mine (the injunction was noted).
Both he and the magistrate noted what the charging officer Sgt Ken Dale had said about me being familiar to him and moving immediately when directed. This seems to be some courtroom code for "This fella no problem". Thanks Ken.
Among other things Cameron said that protest was a necessary part of social change and mentioned examples including the fall of the Berlin Wall.
So inspired was he that the police prosecutor, with humour and undisguised admiration, did not object to Cameron's appeal for a Section 10. No conviction recorded. Though I have to pay $76 court costs.
From what i heard sitting in the court and waiting outside, most of the busniess of the day was AVOs and traffic fines, the everyday troubles of the human condition. My case seemed to appeal on a higher moral plane and bring out the best in the duty solicitor, the police prosecutor and the magistrate. And not just them, all the court staff were smiling.
So it goes on the protest road. Our truthful witness inspires and uplifts those who are touched by it. Many are the ripples that go out; much the goodwill that follows us.