A protester blocking the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto is led away by police. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
A protester blocking the Prince Edward Viaduct in Toronto is led away by police. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)

Topics: Justice | Activism

Extinction Rebellion protest shuts busy Toronto bridge

Climate justice demonstrations took place across Canada and around the world

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About 20 people were arrested after activists shut down Toronto’s Prince Edward Viaduct to vehicles on Monday to draw awareness to the climate crisis.

The group Extinction Rebellion, which uses civil disobedience “in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimize the risk of social collapse,” called on people around the world to stage demonstrations beginning on Oct. 7.

In Canada, protesters also snarled commutes in Halifax, Edmonton, Kitchener, Ont., Victoria and Vancouver, CBC reported.

The protesters erected a ‘Act Now’ sign using large block letters. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
Protesters sit and face police during the demonstration. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
Protesters sit and face police during the demonstration. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)

The group is calling on governments around the world to declare a climate emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2025 and create and be led by a citizens’ assembly on ecological justice.

Dozens in Toronto gathered on the viaduct Monday morning, some with banners and signs. Even after the peak traffic period had passed, they remained on the bridge, singing songs and chanting “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”

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“Ultimately, I think people should be in the street today and they should be in the street every single day until we hit the required needs that we have to make sure that hundreds of millions of people don’t die here and around the world,” said Kevin Imrie, an Extinction Rebellion member.

“I really started to dig into the science and the 2018 IPCC report was really, really alarming,” said Kate Petriw, another member. “I experienced a lot of anxiety around it and so I decided to join Extinction Rebellion because I noticed that their efforts had been working.”

“It’s stressful to be off work. Like, I’m worried about my job,” Imrie said. “We have three really clear demands that I think are perfectly reasonable. I think that we want people to be safe, and we want that safety to continue and we want the truth to be told.”

Kate Petriw and Kevin Imrie are members of Extinction Rebellion. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
Kate Petriw and Kevin Imrie are members of Extinction Rebellion. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)

At about 10:30 a.m., Toronto police issued its last warning, advising protesters to clear the bridge. A small group remained in front of large block letters reading “Act Now,” and then sat on the viaduct peacefully facing off with officers.

Police arrested the remaining people blocking the bridge one by one after noon as supporters shouted “We love you!” Some of them went limp, requiring officers to lift them away from the blockade.

The bridge reopened at about 1:30 p.m., police said. Charges are pending.

A demonstrator is carried away. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
A demonstrator is carried away. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
A demonstrator who was arrested flashes peace signs. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)
A protester who was arrested flashes peace signs. (Photo: Aleysha Haniff)

Broadview is an award-winning progressive Christian magazine, featuring stories about spirituality, justice and ethical living. For more of our content, subscribe to the magazine today.

Aleysha Haniff is Broadview's assistant digital editor. Previously, she has worked for the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada.

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  • says:

    The group Extinction Rebellion, which uses civil disobedience...

    That is all you need to know. This should not be in the Broadview's Justice section. Unless these protesters are charged.

  • says:

    Well I read their principles carefully on the link provided. Essentially they are a movement not an organization. But they say anybody can join and organize however they want to protest against all and any perceived injustice that is clearly the fault of all hierarchies that perpetuate the sins of intersectionality. This includes but is not restricted to climate change. Their leadership is entirely anonymous so no one needs to take responsibility for any action or can be held accountable for anything. Being arrested is a tactic for the foot soldiers of the movement because this is one way to win the tactical battle and achieve their concrete goals whatever they may be in the moment.
    That is what their anonymous leaders who wrote the principles believe. They won't be getting arrested soon because no one knows who they:)

    Replies

    • says:

      Unorganized anarchy.