By ALLISON HORE
Protesters, chained to oil barrels full of cement and glued to the road, were arrested after blocking a busy CBD road for almost an hour.
The protesters, calling for climate action and an end to the Narrabri gas project, blocked the intersection of Bathurst and George Streets in Sydney at peak hour on Monday, causing traffic chaos.
The target of their protest was the APA Group, a natural gas transmission company which is developing the Western Slopes Pipeline (WSP), a $500 million 460-kilometre gas pipeline which will deliver natural gas from the Narrabri Gas Project to homes and businesses across New South Wales.
“Today we’re here to demand no gas, and climate action now,” explained a member of Extinction Rebellion in a live video posted to their Facebook page.
“The APA group are the ones who are helping Santos with the Narrabri gas project, they’re building the Western Slopes gas pipelines, so we’re here today to say no toxic gas pipelines.”
The group who orchestrated the protest, Extinction Rebellion Australia, is one branch of the global protest group which began in London in 2018. They describe themselves as a “non-violent civil disobedience movement.”
One protester who glued her hand to the road of the intersection wore a sign around her neck saying “Glued on for Grandchildren Everywhere.”
“I’m here for my grandchild, and all the grandchildren everywhere, because I listen to scientists. Most people will listen to scientists when it comes to medical stuff, flying in aeroplanes, they know they can land a rover on Mars,” she said.
“Yet for some reason people won’t listen to scientists when they say we’re in a climate and ecological emergency. And we need to do something now.”
Protesters on the road were issued ‘move on’ orders by police but refused to comply.
Two women and one man who had affixed themselves to concrete-filled barrels were arrested. Another woman, a blind, 59-year-old grandmother, was arrested after she had glued herself to the road. They were charged with “preventing free passage of person, vehicle or vessel” and failing to comply with police directions.
Another protester climbed onto an awning out the front of the APA building on George Street holding a sign saying “APA and Santos, your gas is killing us” and throwing fake money down onto the footpath below. She was arrested by police and charged for littering and for “risking the safety of others” by climbing a building or structure.
Arrests are not something Extinction Rebellion is unfamiliar with. In fact, it is par for the course for Extinction Rebellion, and worth it to send a strong message.
“Many of the actions will be arrestable. All are meant to be disruptive,” they say.
“We believe these are the lengths we must go to if we are going to get our governments to respond with the required urgency to the climate and ecological emergency that is only just beginning.”