Cli­mate ac­tivists block roads, march in global protests

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Geir Moulson

BER­LIN — Ac­tivists with the Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion move­ment blocked roads and staged demon­stra­tions in big cities around the globe Mon­day, part of a wide-rang­ing se­ries of protests de­mand­ing ur­gent ac­tion against cli­mate change.

De­mon­stra­tors stopped traf­fic in Euro­pean cities in­clud­ing Ber­lin, Lon­don, Paris and Am­s­ter­dam. In New York, ac­tivists smeared them­selves — and em­blems of Wall Street — in fake blood and lay in the street.

In some cities, ac­tivists chained them­selves to ve­hi­cles or pitched tent camps and vowed not to budge.

“You might come from a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent groups, but we all stand against a sys­tem that’s de­stroy­ing the planet and mankind, and we’re look­ing to change that be­cause we can’t just have lit­tle changes, we want a real big change,” said Pier­rick Jalby, a 28-year-old nurse from east­ern France who joined the demon­stra­tion in Paris. “We don’t want re­forms, in fact, we want a rev­o­lu­tion.”

Mem­bers of Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion, a loose-knit move­ment also known as XR that started last year in Bri­tain, have staged a se­ries of flashy protests this year to de­mand ac­tion on man-made cli­mate change, of­ten fea­tur­ing marchers in white masks and red cos­tumes and fake blood.

In Ber­lin on Mon­day, about 1,000 peo­ple blocked the Grosser Stern, a traf­fic cir­cle in the mid­dle of the Ger­man cap­i­tal’s Tier­garten park dom­i­nated by the land­mark Vic­tory Col­umn. That protest be­gan be­fore dawn. An ad­di­tional 300 peo­ple blocked Ber­lin’s Pots­damer Platz, plac­ing couches, ta­bles, chairs and flow­er­pots on the road.

Over the week­end, de­mon­stra­tors had set up a tent camp out­side Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s of­fice to pre­pare for the protests, re­flect­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion with a cli­mate pol­icy pack­age drawn up last month by her gov­ern­ment.

Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, crit­i­cized the group’s tac­tics.

“We all share an in­ter­est in cli­mate pro­tec­tion, and the Paris cli­mate tar­gets are our stan­dard in this,” he told ZDF tele­vi­sion. “If you demon­strate against or for that, that is OK. But if you an­nounce dan­ger­ous in­ter­ven­tions in road traf­fic or things like this, of course that is just not on.”

He dis­missed the idea of declar­ing a “cli­mate emer­gency,” say­ing that the Ger­man con­sti­tu­tion doesn’t pro­vide for such a thing and it wouldn’t trans­late into “con­crete ac­tion.”

Around 1,000 pro­test­ers blocked the area around Chatelet in cen­tral Paris and vowed to stay at least the night in the makeshift camp they had pitched. Some were seated, some chained to a bar­rel.

De­mon­stra­tors play­ing steel drums marched through cen­tral Lon­don as they kicked off two weeks of ac­tiv­i­ties de­signed to dis­rupt the city.

Lon­don po­lice said some 135 cli­mate ac­tivists had been ar­rested. Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion said pro­test­ers were ar­rested as they blocked Vic­to­ria Em­bank­ment, out­side the Min­istry of De­fense.

In New York City, pro­test­ers doused a fa­mous statue of a charg­ing bull near Wall Street with fake blood. One pro­tester wav­ing a green flag climbed on top of the bull. Other ac­tivists splashed with red dye staged a “die-in” in front of the New York Stock Ex­change — ly­ing down as if dead while tourists gawked.

ASANKA BREN­DON RATNAYAKE/GETTY-AFP

Cli­mate de­mon­stra­tors march through a street in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, on Mon­day.

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