VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Climate activists took over the streets of downtown Vancouver Saturday, and several protesters have been arrested.
Extinction Rebellion Vancouver rallied at the Vancouver Art Gallery at noon, staged a “die in” outside of the courthouse, and set up tripods blocking traffic at the intersection of Hornby and Smith Streets.
Maayan Kreitzman, a volunteer, demonstrators who perched atop wooden tripods were arrested. The Vancouver Police Department confirms three people were arrested.
“The Vancouver Police were forced to arrest three protesters Saturday after they blocked a downtown intersection for several hours and refused multiple requests by police to leave,” says Sgt. Steve Addison.
“The protest was peaceful. The three people were arrested for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway.”
Disruption of downtown traffic and commerce was deliberate, according to Kreitzman, who adds there were dozens of Vancouver police officers present.
“It’s not just about marches it’s about getting in the way of business as usual and actually disrupting the normal functioning of society because when the government breaks the social contract citizens actually have a right to rebel,” she says.
“There’s certainly a lot of them here policing entirely peaceful, nonviolent action.”
The group has four demands of the Canadian government.
“We’re here calling attention to the government of Canada’s criminal inaction on the climate and ecological emergency. Extinction Rebellion is demanding a just transformation, that the government tell the truth about the severity of the crisis, that they act swiftly to halt biodiversity loss and reduce emissions to zero, and that they enact citizens assemblies to actually upgrade democracy and give power back to the people,” she explains.
“We have learned from so many movements, throughout history and around the world that have used nonviolent civil disobedience to change the system. So we know that this is possible when enough people participate.”
Kreitzman says the TransMountain Pipeline expansion (TMX) is one local project that must be abandoned in favour of more sustainable alternatives.
“The TMX pipeline is just building up more and more fossil fuel infrastructure when we know that those need to be phased out really quickly. There is no more space for any new infrastructure. We actually need to be dismantling and replacing fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy right now,” she says.
“The fact that our governments are not only failing to act, but they’re also actually digging the hole deeper, is shocking, it’s morally bankrupt.”
Kreitzman points to the recent arrests of Indigenous youth protesting insurance companies in Vancouver as one example of how “the VPD will over police peaceful protests”
“We’ve seen that violence mostly against Indigenous people that are trying to protect their lands. And so we’re just keeping an eye on what’s happening today to make sure that nobody gets hurt, but there’s a lot of settlers here today.”
The group also wants people to understand the human cost of environmental destruction and climate change.
“There’s already people here in Canada and around the world that are suffering from environmental crises, and that burden, particularly falls to people that are already vulnerable, that are already poor, that are already racialized and targeted in different ways. So, that failure to act is actually not just about the environment, it’s about people too.”