Commuters furious as climate activists again disrupt morning peak-hour

At a second location on the King Street Bridge, near Flinders Street, protesters said they glued themselves to the road.

An organiser of the Spencer Street protest said the activists laying down were willing to be arrested and would have to be cut out from the locked plastic pipes.

Police placed a set of headphones and a construction hat with an eye visor on a protester before using an electric saw and a grinder to cut through the tubing.

The protesters were unlocked and arrested one by one, with fellow activists chanting “you’re a climate hero” as they were escorted to a waiting police van.

Police work to cut plastic pipes used by Extinction Rebellion climate activists to lock themselves together in Melbourne.Credit:Caroline Hartnett

Police are moving people off the street onto the footpaths. One officer told people if they didn’t get off the road they would be arrested.

Motorists stuck at the blocked intersection were furious as the peak-hour commute came to a standstill.

One said she was going to be late for work and was “f—ing pissed off”.

“I support their ideas but not protests like this,” she said. “I’m going to be very late for work.”

A taxi driver stuck on Spencer Street said he was on his way home to take medication when the blockade started.

Extinction Rebellion climate activists block the intersection at Collins and Spencer streets.

Extinction Rebellion climate activists block the intersection at Collins and Spencer streets.Credit:Rachael Houlihan

He said people have a right to protest, but not when it inconvenienced others.

Pedestrians walking past were bemused. One man yelled for the activists get off the road, while another stopped to watch and told protesters they were “doing good work”.

There were set to be three actions on Thursday, including two disruptions in the morning and then a “people’s assembly” about climate change at noon.

About 100 protesters gathered outside RMIT University about 7am before breaking into small groups and heading to two secret locations which they plan to hold “for as long as possible”. One group left on bikes and the other on foot.

Another briefing with about 50 people was held simultaneously at Alexandra Gardens.

Organisers advised protesters if they were followed by police on the walk to the secret location, they should sit down at a cafe, have a coffee and wait for them to leave.

Extinction Rebellion activtists hit the road with their message on Wednesday.

Extinction Rebellion activtists hit the road with their message on Wednesday.Credit:Jason South

Melbourne social worker Kylie Riha-Jones says she is willing to be arrested at today’s Extinction Rebellion protest.

She has attended protests for nine years trying to “get the government to address this climate emergency”.

“But after nine years our emissions continue to go up.” Ms Riha-Jones said. “Now I feel the only thing to do is to put my body on the line and be disobedient, to disrupt and to do everything I can to get our government to get out of the fossil fuel industry and start to address this emergency.”

It comes after Victoria Police North West Commander Tim Hansen on Wednesday said climate protesters’ refusal to let the authorities know what they were planning has forced police to suspend proactive campaigns around crime prevention.

Mr Hansen said more police resources would be called upon late on Wednesday because of intelligence that disruption efforts by Extinction Rebellion protesters would “increase dramatically”, which he warned could include protests at Melbourne airport and on public transport systems.

By Wednesday afternoon, a total of 69 protesters had been arrested so far in Melbourne for their part in three days of protests planned across Australia’s major cities – a campaign they dubbed the ‘Spring Rebellion’.

Organisers claimed some activists had been pressured into signing bail conditions based upon “erroneous” advice from the police present.


Mr Hansen said he was not aware of any undue or false pressures on the arrested activists.

On Wednesday morning, climate activists used bikes to block intersections on Hoddle Street in Collingwood.

Later that afternoon about 150 protesters met up in Bowen Street near the State Library before heading out across the CBD to “swarm” at various intersections.

For roughly 20 minutes, they blocked the junction of La Trobe and Swanston streets.

Chanting “Oceans are rising, no more compromising” and “This is what democracy looks like”, the group held signs reading “Time to Act Now” and “No Planet B”.

On Tuesday, police arrested 59 Extinction Rebellion protesters after hundreds blocked the intersection of Spring and Collins streets, stopping trams and traffic while singing to police.

Eleven protesters were arrested on Monday night after thousands of activists shut down city streets during the afternoon’s peak-hour commute.

About 30 tents were erected in Carlton Gardens on Monday night, where the group has set up camp for the week.

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