Hundreds of arrests as London climate-change activists vow more protests – National Post

Hundreds of arrests as London climate-change activists vow more protests - National Post
Extinction Rebellion protesters block traffic on busy bridges across Canada
TORONTO — Climate change activists Extinction Rebellion have organized a series of protests to block busy bridges to traffic across Canada.

The environmental campaigners, known as XR, seek to draw attention to the climate emergency and want to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025.

“But the failure of successive governments for the past 30 years, scientists, industry NGOs to create any meaningful change has led a group of volunteer activists, you know, to risk being arrested to bring attention to the issue, to start a conversation about the hard choices we face if we’re going to get out of this climate mess.”

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It plans to shut down some of Canadas busiest bridges on Monday, in line with protests around the world; including the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge over Halifax Harbour, the Burrard Street bridge in Vancouver and the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto, by having protesters lie down or sit in traffic lanes, according to The Canadian Press.

Members of Extinction Rebellion also set up a camp outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, reflecting dissatisfaction with a climate policy package drawn up last month by her government, ahead of what it called an “international rebellion” starting Monday. The group said protests are planned in 60 cities worldwide.

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Halifaxs Macdonald Bridge was closed to vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic for around four hours on Monday morning as fewer than 100 XR members gathered for a protest, CTV News Atlantic reports.

Police Chief Dale McFee defended how officers responded to the protest, saying police were prepared to act. When asked why there were no arrests made in Edmonton even though police arrested protesters in other cities, McFee said those protests went on for a longer period of time.

The demonstration forced some commuters to take alternate routes to work and fueled congestion on main arteries throughout Halifax and Dartmouth.

Police initally said they arrested 14 protesters under the Protection of Property Act for failing to leave the premises after being ordered to do so. They later corrected that number to 18 arrests.

“By engaging in civil disobedience, Extinction Rebellion Canada hopes to pressure elected officials to enact legally binding policies to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2025,” an advisory from the group said.

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The bridge was closed to traffic just before the protesters arrived on scene and police blocked their access to the bridge.

About 40,000 vehicles use the Macdonald bridge daily along with about 1,200 people who bike or walk across the span. The bridge was reopened to traffic by midday.

"Joining thousands of rebels across the globe in a week of direct actions, a team of climbers from the Extinction Rebellion in Quebec have scaled the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and opted to redecorate the structure," the group said in a statement.

"I think this is a huge success," protest organizer Patrick Yancey told The Canadian Press just moments before he was arrested.

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"I think its going to be great for the whole world to see all of the people who are willing to make this sacrifice in order to get some action on this climate crisis."

In Toronto, dozens of protestors shut the Prince Edward Viaduct connecting a main road in the east of the city to downtown Toronto. The demonstration, which was due to finish at 10 a.m. ET, still had protesters in place by 11.30 a.m.

The group said achieving "climate justice" will require continued, massive political action and so far, the hundreds of thousands of people who have mobilized to protest climate change in Quebec are being ignored.

Police told The Canadian Press they made 20 arrests at the end of the demonstration, but said the protests were peaceful.

They say the protest, which joined similar demonstrations around the world as part of the global Extinction Rebellion movement urging more government action to fight climate change, was peaceful with no major incidents until the arrest.

XR organizer in Toronto, Kevin Imrie, said people were arrested after a number of protesters refused to disperse.

We did the best that we could to close things down in an organized fashion, Imrie told CTV News Channel.

They say between 10 and 11 p.m., "police were forced to arrest" environmental protesters who refused to leave the Burrard Street Bridge even after requests and warnings.

I understand that people are angry. I would also hope that they would be angry at the folks who are putting them in danger by not taking action on climate change.

Vancouver Police say 10 people were arrested late Monday for obstruction of justice after they refused to leave a bridge linking the city's downtown to the west side.

On the other side of the country police in Victoria, B.C., say they are prepared for another XR protest at the Johnson Street Bridge, CTV Vancouver Island reports.

"The #BridgeOut campaign points out that the bridge to the future is being demolished by big oil, and oily politicians," said a Facebook page organizing the event.

At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the group will hand out birthday cake at Place du Canada to “celebrate” one year since the International Panel on Climate Change released a landmark report warning that the devastating consequences of global warming will be felt sooner and at a lower temperature than previously anticipated.

"This escalation of tactics is the minimum of whats necessary to give young people a fighting chance at a decent future. We regret that ordinary people will be frustrated by the commute disruption, but the collapse of human society would be a much bigger inconvenience."

And there will be a series of “slow swarms,” including one in pyjamas. This is when activists congregate in an intersection and cross together on the green light — like a flash mob, but with existential angst. It’s considered a soft action and not meant to be particularly disruptive.

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Protesters also shut the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver, where police arrested 10 people late Monday after they refused to leave the bridge linking the citys downtown to the west side.

A specialized Montreal fire department unit climbed the structure to ensure the protesters’ safety and convince them to come down. “We had to set up a security perimeter to get the climbers down (so we closed the bridge),” said Ingrid Asselin of the Sûreté du Québec.

And in Edmonton, a handful of XR protesters linked arms to block the Walterdale Bridge Monday morning to demand action on climate change.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, criticizing the action on Twitter, noted that traffic backups meant hundreds of cars were idling for no good reason.

The protesters were from an environmental activist group called Extinction Rebellion Québec and were demanding “climate justice.” The action delayed commuters who use the bridge to get to work and caused traffic jams on Montreal’s other bridges from the South Shore.

Video: Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion wants to paralyze cities worldwide | DW News

The police service told The Canadian Press that an officer negotiated with the protesters, who agreed to end the blockade an hour earlier than planned.

“You might come from a variety of different groups, but we all stand against a system thats destroying the planet and mankind, and were looking to change that because we cant just have little changes, we want a real big change,” said Pierrick Jalby, a 28-year-old nurse from eastern France who joined the demonstration in Paris. “We dont want reforms, in fact, we want a revolution.”

The protest in Albertas capital was one of 60 happening around the world on Monday under the umbrella #BridgeOut, according to CTV News Edmonton.

In Berlin on Monday, around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capitals Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column. That protest began before dawn. Another 300 people blocked Berlins central Potsdamer Platz, placing couches, tables, chairs and flowerpots on the road.

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Calgary was planning a "family-friendly" event on Monday afternoon, The Canadian Press reported.

In Spain, a few dozen activists briefly chained themselves to each other and to an elevated road over a major artery in the Madrid, snarling traffic during the morning rush hour. The National Police said 33 activists were taken to their premises and three were arrested for resisting orders by anti-riot officers.

Meanwhile in London, England, police arrested 21 climate change activists on Saturday and Sunday on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. Further protests took place in London on Monday.

The arrests come as protesters in Berlin and Amsterdam blocked roads ahead of what is being described as widespread demonstrations.

In Amsterdam, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major road outside the Rijksmuseum, one of the citys most popular tourist attractions, and set up tents. The protest went ahead despite a city ban on activists gathering on the road. The protesters ignored police calls for them to move to a nearby square.

In New York City, protesters doused a famous statue of a charging bull near Wall Street with fake blood.

Last week, XR attempted to spray fake blood on a British government building in London, using an out-of-commission fire engine to drench the front of the Treasury building.

Some pixs of Extinction Rebellion protest, which has the Macdonald Bridge closed between Dartmouth and Halifax. No word on when it will be [email protected] @C100FM pic.twitter.com/1WeYvgxDbs

Members of Extinction Rebellion, protesting issues related to climate change, gather at the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Members of Extinction Rebellion, protesting issues related to climate change, march to the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan