Vancouver police arrest 3 climate change protesters after downtown intersection blocked

·2 min read
People march in Vancouver on Saturday Feb. 27, 2021 as part of a Extinction Rebellion organized event to draw attention to inaction over climate change in Canada. (Doug Kerr/CBC - image credit)
People march in Vancouver on Saturday Feb. 27, 2021 as part of a Extinction Rebellion organized event to draw attention to inaction over climate change in Canada. (Doug Kerr/CBC - image credit)

A group of climate change activists known around the world for their dramatic protests and willingness to be arrested blocked traffic in downtown Vancouver on Saturday.

Around 50 people with Extinction Rebellion marched from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the law courts Saturday afternoon, then occupied the intersection at Hornby and Smithe streets. Three people were arrested.

Maayan Kreitzman, a volunteer with the group, said she was protesting what she calls a lack of action by the Canadian government to address climate change and its ecological impact.

"And that means that normal people need to stand up and resist," she said.

Protesters with Extinction Rebellion lay on a road in downtown Vancouver on Feb. 27, 2021.
Protesters with Extinction Rebellion lay on a road in downtown Vancouver on Feb. 27, 2021.

Extinction Rebellion has three key objectives: to see governments communicate and act with urgency around climate change; engage citizens through an assembly that will determine policies to stop climate change; and ensure carbon emissions are reduced to net zero by 2025 — a deadline 25 years shorter than that proposed by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The group on Saturday spilled buckets of fake blood in the street, then collapsed to the ground as part of what it called a die-in.

The display was part of a series of monthly peaceful protests, leading up to the group's so-called spring rebellion, planned for May 1 in Victoria, where protesters hope to provoke hundreds of arrests to gain more attention and support for their movement.

"I always thought that climate change is an issue that is going to be happening in the future, and we'll worry about it in 10 years, 20 years. No. We have to make the changes now," said Nam Topp-Nguyen a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion.

Vancouver police said officers arrested three protesters for mischief and intimidation after an intersection was blocked for several hours and the group refused to leave after multiple requests.

"The protest was peaceful," said Const. Steve Addison in a release.

He said the three people arrested were taken to jail and then released under a promise to appear at court at a later date.

In 2019, 10 people with Extinction Rebellion were arrested after 100 activists took over the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver for more than 12 hours.

Extinction Rebellion was founded in the U.K. in October 2018 and rose to prominence when the group disrupted traffic in central London for 11 days. More than 1,000 activists were arrested, of whom 850 were prosecuted for various public disorder offences. At least 250 have been convicted.