Legal fees crowdfunding campaign for tree felling protestors smashes target

A fund raising campaign to cover legal costs for Sheffield tree protesters facing prosecution has smashed its target.

The crowdfunding campaign, formed by Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG), has already collected £7,935 with the original goal standing at £5,000.

222 people have donated to the cause so far, with one pledge of £1,000.

The campaign has started for a third time as Sheffield City Council are taking several protesters to court, including councillor Alison Teal, for breaking an injunction.

Sheffield City Council successfully won an injunction this summer. It states that, from August 22nd, anyone trespassing within safety barriers surrounding tree replacement works will be in contempt of court and face the risk of fine and/or imprisonment.

Calvin Payne posing next to a tree.

Calvin Payne, a history writer, of Moncrieffe Road, stands accused of breaking the injunction and will be in court on October 27th.

Mr Payne, 45, said: “It has ensured that I, and everyone else, have been able to act without fear of legal costs and/or fines.

“People who are not able to protest directly can fund those of us that can and do. I appreciate the generosity and solidarity the funding provides and it shows the depth of support across the city.”

Chris Rust, of Ladysmith Avenue, co-chair of STAG, said: “Anybody who is in court deserves a defence for whatever they’ve done and we need to make sure we’ve got funds to do that.

“Whenever there is a legal challenge to our people, a threat to our people, we are able to raise money because that stimulates people who think ‘what can I do?’ and we say “okay well you can give to our legal fund.” So we start one of these every time there is an arrest or someone is threatened with court action.

“They (Sheffield City Council) thought getting this injunction would give them a tool to stop protests. But they underestimate the determination of the people they’re up against.”

Two previous fund raising efforts have raised over £25,000.

Fourteen arrests were made in 2016 in connection to tree protesting but none resulted in convictions.

The campaign still has  a further 11 days to run and you can donate here.

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