Everton protester Louis McKechnie says being handed a prison sentence is ‘worth it’ after tying himself to a goal post mid-game.
The activist who tied himself to a goalpost at Goodison Park has been sentenced to six weeks in prison.
Louis McKechnie used a mental-enforced zip tie to attach himself by his neck during the Premier League match against Newcastle United back in March, leading to a lengthy stoppage and his eventual removal and arrest.
Wearing an orange Just Stop Oil shirt, the protester was part of a civil resistance group which wanted the Government to act to end the use of fossil fuels.
On trial at South Sefton Magistrates’ Court, the 21-year-old denied aggravated trespass but was found guilty on Friday afternoon and also given a £50 fine, or one day in detention, for going onto the pitch, made subject to a three-year football banning order and ordered to pay £500 towards prosecution costs.
PC Colin White, who arrested McKechnie said: “At that time in the football season Everton were struggling so there was great frustration in the crowd already.
“When Mr McKechnie went onto the pitch and attached himself to the goalpost there was a lot of frustration, there was a lot of shouting, a lot of abuse and the occasional missile was being thrown onto the pitch in the direction of the goal.”
While given a six-week prison term, the court heard that McKechnie, who gave his address as HMP Altcourse, had already served that sentence, having been in custody since July.
However after being given the punishment, the activist said that it was ‘worth it’ if his protest saves lives.
McKechnie said: “We came up with the idea of how do we get the most eyes on that name, Just Stop Oil, and of course, in this day and age, football is the biggest cultural phenomenon there is.”
He added: “Hopefully, public awareness will bring public action which might actually, if we can get the Government to listen to us, might actually save a lot of lives.
“If it’s a chance of saving a billion lives, it’s worth it no matter the odds.”
In January, Mckechnie appeared on LBC after serving half of a three-month sentence at HMP Thameside for breaching an injunction, and was released on New Year’s Eve.
Despite being “terrified” by the prospect of being behind bars, he claims they got a warm welcome from the other prisoners, who were “entertained” by the climate campaigners, and promised to look out for them.
He said he felt “emboldened” and was willing to risk it all over again, “if the stakes were high enough”.
Mckechnie said: “My experience of prison has emboldened me to take any future action regardless of whether prison is a consequence.”
If Insulate Britain repeated their actions, breaching injunctions to block another motorway, he said he would “be there”.
He added: “Absolutely. I feel that if we were able to save these 8,000 to 30,000 lives that are lost every year to fuel poverty, I’d spend the rest of my life in prison for that.”
Mckechnie also said the group would “escalate” their actions, if the current methods of blocking roads and motorways fails to force the Government to bend to their demands to insulate all homes in Britain by 2030.
“I see the only way that these protests will stop is when our demands are met,” Mckechnie said.
“When the Government acts on the climate crisis, acts on fuel poverty and stands up for its own people.”
He added: “I can’t tell you what our next action will be, but I can tell you it will be non-violent.”
The 21-year-old was one of nine Insulate Britain protesters taken to court after causing chaos on the M25 in 2021.
All nine admitted to breaching an injunction while blockading junction 25 of the motorway on the 8th of October last year, during a High Court hearing.
Mckechnie previously said in a statement that the Government’s decision to imprison members of the group would show their “cowardice”.
He said: “They will lock us up and leave thousands to die of cold this winter, and millions to face climate chaos in the coming decades.”
It came after Insulate Britain pushed for the Government to “insulate Britain’s homes to save thousands of lives and prevent economic and social collapse”, amid growing concern over global warming.
The group called for a national plan to be drawn up in order to tackle the ongoing crisis.
Many will also recall how a group of protesters breached an F1 track in July 2022 on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix and were on the circuit when cars came past.
The protesters managed to get onto the circuit at the Wellington straight, which lies just after the first sequence of corners.
A group known as ‘Just Stop Oil’ claimed to be behind it. Seven protesters were arrested.
When told about the protest after the race in the press conference for the top three finishers Lewis Hamilton appeared to issue support, saying: “Big up to them”.
He went on to explain: “I didn’t know what the protestors were for, so I only just found out. I just said big up the protestors. I love that people are fighting for the planet. So we need more people like them.”
Mercedes later added that Hamilton had been “endorsing their right to protest but not the method that they chose, which compromised their safety and that of others”.
The point of any kind of protest is to disrupt and make a point, for people to take notice, get it in the headlines and cause a stir. But when it comes to protesting to the point where it’s seriously endangering life, it’s a different matter.