Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) campaigners gathered outside Sheffield Combined Court Centre yesterday morning to protest the sentencing of fellow member Calvin Payne.
The 44-year-old was found in contempt of court for twice breaking an injunction preventing him from stepping into safety zones around trees due to be felled in Sheffield.
He also breached the order by encouraging people to break the injunction on Facebook.
Before the sentence, STAG members gathered outside Sheffield Crown Court chanting his name and holding placards with his face on them.
Mr Payne was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for a year and ordered to pay £16’000 in costs, being told by Mr Justice Males: “This is your final chance.”
However, Mr Payne said that he would continue to campaign against the felling of trees in Sheffield whilst not breaking any further injunctions.
Councillor Alison Teal, who had a similar case against her, dismissed by the court said: “I think it’s deeply regrettable that the council asked for a prison sentence. Having the threat of being sent to prison for wanting to protect healthy trees is an outrageous situation to contend with.”
She also criticised the council’s inability to take a more community spirited approach before taking legal action.
Speaking of the rally, she added: “If there is a message to others it would be that the campaign is as strong as ever and that it is about so much more than trees.
“Issues about the lack of local democracy have been brought sharply into focus since the council have continued to ride roughshod over community opinion.”