VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Seven people have been arrested after a climate protest attempted to stop traffic on the Lions Gate Bridge Monday, according to police.
A statement from the Vanocuver Police Department says while officers respect the right to protest, closing the bridge “would guarantee gridlock and could put lives at risk.”
A spokesperson says police tried to convince protesters to abandon their plan to block the bridge and protest elsewhere.
“VPD negotiators warned the group that they would be arrested if they blocked access to the bridge, and asked them to choose a different place to protest. When the demonstrators insisted on marching toward the bridge, VPD officers walked and cycled beside them, confined them to the sidewalk, and prevented them from reaching the bridge deck,” a statement says.
“While most protesters eventually agreed to exit Stanley Park and abandon their plans to block the bridge, five people who refused to leave the causeway were arrested and taken to jail.
Two others were later arrested fro “blocking traffic in the West End.
The bridge was briefly completely blocked, then down to single lane traffic before being cleared around 3:40 p.m.
Extinction Rebellion asked people to gather at Devonian Harbour Park at 12 p.m. in an effort to “close the gates to fossil fuel exports” including the TMX pipeline.
“We’ve seen 30 years of virtually no action on the climate and ecological crisis from the Canadian government,” Maayan Kreitzman with the group said, adding the location of the bridge is largely symbolic.
“It spans over the Salish Sea, which is where all these tankers are going to be traversing but it’s not about blocking traffic per se. We’re not trying to blame drivers or annoy anyone and we’re very sorry that we’re inconveniencing people, but it’s just come to a point where governments aren’t listening to more reasonable requests to listen to the science and to listen to the First Nations that are opposing this pipeline.”
— Nathan Harland ????????????+???? (@lokin8) May 3, 2021
Monday’s protest comes after a pair of demonstrations in Vancouver over the weekend. The first, which took place on Saturday, shut down the intersection of Granville and Georgia streets for hours, resulting in five arrests that afternoon.
On Sunday, climate protesters once again took to a main route, blocking the Granville Street Bridge. Vancouver police say between 30 and 40 people took part in the demonstration, and eight were arrested.
The police have made their announcements.
We do this for our children. Your children. The wolves. The whales. All our relations.
We won't be sacrificed. pic.twitter.com/umNM4qyEQJ
— Extinction Rebellion Vancouver (@XRVancouverBC) May 2, 2021
The weekend protests are part of a series of events planned by Extinction Rebellion.
“On May 1-5th, we will stop business as usual in our own lives, in the lives of the public, and of those in power,” the event page for the “Spring Rebellion” reads. “We withdraw our cooperation from the systems that are leading us and all our relations to calamity.”
The group is calling for people to “book the week off,” get camping gear together, and to join members downtown where protesters say they’ll be “establishing a home base in the streets.”
“This is the year. The decisions made over the next few months will define the future of our world,” the group’s Facebook post reads. “The stakes have never been higher as time runs out to act effectively and decisively on the climate and ecological emergency. We are hovering at the point of no return and yet our Government continues to pave the way for mass death and extinction of countless species. If they won’t do what’s necessary to safeguard our future, then we must. This year, it is down to all of us to act.”
-With files from Lisa Steacy and Lasia Kretzel