On September 29th, 62-year-old John Stewart, a high-profile UK activist and author, traveled to New York's JFK airport expecting to embark on an invited speaking tour across six U.S. cities starting on October 1st.
Though he was allowed to take the flight, he made it no further than the JFK terminal. At the airport, the FBI, Secret Service and immigration officials detained him for six hours of questioning before sending him on a flight back to the U.K.
John Stewart, a respected environmental activist with no criminal record, had applied and been approved to enter the U.S under the U.S. Visa Waiver program for British citizens—this approval was rescinded mid-flight.
The reason may have been his willingness to acknowledge the fact that peaceful civil disobedience has played a part in British environmental movements.
Stewart was voted the most effective environmental activist in the UK for his role in helping convince the current Conservative-led government to scrap plans for an expensive and environmentally destructive expansion project at London's Heathrow airport, a campaign that brought climate activists and fiscal conservatives together as unlikely allies.
Aviation Justice, a U.S. coalition, wanted aviation and climate organizers in America to hear John tell the story of the Heathrow coalition, which can't be told without mentioning the role of peaceful civil disobedience protests. In addition, U.S. immigration officials have indefinitely delayed the visa for Dan Glass, the other speaker on the tour, for special “administrative processing.”
The U.S. has a historical legacy of peaceful non-violent civil disobedience leading to important social change. Think of the U.S. civil rights movement. Think of the Occupy Wall Street protest happening now.
Sign the urgent petition to demand that U.S. immigration officials immediately grant both visas and clear Stewart's now-tainted visa record. Help speak out against this truly outrageous situation.