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Three Climate Activists Arrested for Blocking Major Melbourne Bridge

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Thousands of motorists faced delays and disruptions when three Extinction Rebellion activists utilized a rental truck to obstruct West Gate Bridge.

Three climate protesters were apprehended for causing traffic turmoil at a significant Melbourne bridge during rush hour on the morning of March 5.

A multitude of drivers on the West Gate Bridge experienced delays and disturbances following the actions of three protestors affiliated with the radical climate organization, Extinction Rebellion. They employed a hire truck to block three lanes of the bridge at approximately 7:45 a.m.

In a video shared on social media, the three protesters were seen perched on top of a truck positioned in the middle of the bridge while unfurling multiple banners that read “declare a climate emergency” and “climate breakdown has begun.”

Motorists were compelled to shift to the remaining two lanes, resulting in significant congestion that extended back roughly 30 kilometers, as reported by VicRoads.

Extinction Rebellion orchestrated the protest to coincide with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Melbourne to bring attention from the Australian government and ASEAN leaders.

“This is a climate and ecological emergency, and our daily actions impact the habitability of our planet for present and future generations,” activist Violet CoCo stated in a Facebook video.

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“We are highly dedicated to non-violent direct action, but we are committed to raising awareness about the climate and ecological emergency.

“We urge the government and all sectors of society to declare an ecological emergency and take immediate action on this emergency,” she added.

Ms. CoCo was handed a 15-month prison sentence and a $2,500 (US$1,600) fine for obstructing one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2022.

Although the protesters believed their actions were preventing a “climate endgame,” their blockade was met with strong opposition from drivers on the bridge who honked their horns and directed unkind words at the activists.

Law enforcement officers arrived on the scene and attempted to negotiate with the protesters to clear the road. However, this proved unsuccessful, leading them to use a cherry picker to remove the climate activists from the truck.

Authorities reported that the blocked lanes were reopened about two hours after the incident.

Shadow Minister Calls Protest ‘Pointless’

While acknowledging people’s right to protest, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham deemed the Extinction Rebellion members’ actions as without purpose.

“This kind of action is inconsiderate and futile,” he told ABC radio.

“It’s inconsiderate due to the impact it has on thousands of Victorians and futile because it won’t influence the policies of ASEAN leaders in attendance.”

Demonstrators march on a street during a Extinction Rebellion protest in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators march on a street during a Extinction Rebellion protest in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AFP via Getty Images)

Additionally, Mr. Birmingham noted that the protest was not primarily about raising consciousness on issues like climate change, which had already garnered considerable attention and understanding in Australia.

“It’s counterproductive, fostering further divisiveness,” he remarked.

“Individuals who witness protests like this often perceive them as extremist actions rather than crucial mainstream policy considerations.”

Former Labor Senator Stephen Conroy also condemned the activists’ conduct, deeming it irresponsible to block traffic on a vital bridge.

“They could have parked on the side of the road, displayed their signs, and achieved the same level of visibility for their protest,” he expressed to Sky News, highlighting the blockage as a publicity stunt.

“This effort to completely disrupt the lives of countless Melburnians is unacceptable.”

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