Civil disobedience in Melbourne's CBD sounds the alarm on the climate emergency

Civil disobedience in Melbourne's CBD sounds the alarm on the climate emergency

Extinction Rebellion Australia, 18 Mar 2024

XR Vic's Rebel for Life campaign saw slow marches disrupting traffic in the city centre and on St Kilda Road, theatrical events and a mass sit-in outside Flinders St Station.

Groups of rebels disrupted early morning peak hour traffic for four days in a row, with slow marches in the style of Just Stop Oil from the UK. XR is calling on the federal government to join 18 other nations in declaring a climate and ecological emergency. Last year reached 1.5 degrees of warming and we are now in the danger zone for runaway warming.

Catherine Strong, academic and spokesperson for XR said:

"Business as usual equals death. We see one war after another, many of them focused on the control of fossil fuels. Political decisions and the mainstream media are controlled by a tiny elite. Around the world, we see the profits of the few put ahead of the safety and well-being of the many. If the 99% had a say, we would be putting all our efforts into peace, justice and a liveable planet.

"We need Citizens’ Assemblies to harness the good sense of ordinary people to make decisions based on justice and to create the world that we want for ourselves and for generations to come. We need to reclaim our future. Claim our power."

Protesters in costume at the Whalesong action, Victorian parliament

XR demonstration on the steps of Parliament protesting seismic blasting in the Otway Basin. photo by Matt Hrkac

XR Spokesperson and grandmother Brenda Tait said:
"UN officials, who are in a good position to understand the failure of the international negotiations, are calling for mass civil disobedience. Christiana Figueres, who led the climate negotiations that resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement, says: “Civil disobedience is not only a moral choice, it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics”.

"António Guterres, current Secretary-General of the United Nations, says: "We need disruption to end the destruction. No more baby steps. No more excuses. No more greenwashing. No more bottomless greed of the fossil fuel industry and its enablers."

corflute flipping theatrical action outside the Arts Centre

Large numbers of police, including dozens from the Public Order Response Team, attended the corflute flipping theatrical action outside the Arts Centre 'Flipping Crazy'. The action was a message to a world that is ignoring the Climate Crisis. See the video of the action.

Most actions during the Rebel for Life campaign were met by a very heavy police presence, including dozens from the Public Order Response Team.

XR Spokesperson Mark Conroy said:

"The huge amount of police time expended in attempting to prevent peaceful protest is an outrageous waste. The government is failing in their duty of care to keep us safe. They should be expending all available resources on addressing the climate and ecological emergency, not on repressing those attempting to sound the alarm."

Protest outside the IPA office

Another theatrical protest was held outside the Institute of Public Affairs, a think tank that disputes the cost-benefit of renewable energy and supports keeping coal and gas-fired power stations open for the foreseeable future and exploring options for nuclear power. photo by Julian Meehan

The action highlighted the destructive role of the shadowy, but influential, Atlas Network, a global network of 500+ 'think-tanks' including the Institute of Public Affairs. Check the ABC podcast What is the Atlas Network?

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Rosaria Burchielli said:

"The Atlas Network is a secretive global organisation that orchestrates the spread of disinformation to discredit the climate science and slow action on the climate emergency. Denying the facts of the climate crisis threatens our lives and the future of the planet. It’s actually criminal."

"The Atlas Network has for decades spread their toxic lies to influence and reshape public opinion, regardless of the cost to democracy and the planet. Atlas member, Advance Australia, has interfered in Australian politics in the Voice referendum and the recent Dunkley by-election."

Spokesperson Annie Delaney said:

"Large fossil fuel corporations including Exxon Mobil, Caltex, and Shell have funded the Atlas network to the tune of millions of dollars to do their bidding. Atlas members have demonised climate activists as ‘criminals’, and ‘extremists’ and called their actions ‘terrorism’. In several countries, including Australia, Atlas members have lobbied to introduce harsh legislation to criminalise climate protests. It’s our moral duty to disrupt their lies and disinformation and stop these hoaxers."

DISCObedience dancing protest passing a cafe

Later in the day, XR took to the streets in an inclusive dancing protest. #DISCObedience was first performed in Melbourne 2019 and went on to become a global phenomenon, making civil disobedience joyful and fun. This year, XR was dancing in support of young people, highlighting the government's refusal to consider their Duty of Care to young people.

Saturday started off gently with the Mothers' Rebellion for Climate Justice. This was a family-friendly, peaceful and healing action open to mothers, grandmothers, and carers who come in goodwill.

All-in slow march through the city
photo by Matt Hrkac

In the final action of the Rebel for Life campaign, a crowd gathered for speeches and briefings at Treasury Gardens. This was followed by an all-in slow march through the city featuring the Red Rebels, Sybils, Blinky the Giant Koala, Miss Beehave and more.

Red Rebels with Blinky the Giant Koala
photo by Danielle Judd

The march ending in a mass sit down in the road in front of Flinders Street Station, with hundreds of people who had signed up to risk fines or possibly arrest, in an act of mass civil disobedience. Each Rebel was escorted off the road by an large group of Public Order Response Team cops in a clear display of over-policing.

Violet Coco, who was out on bail after being jailed for her role in a protest on the West Gate Bridge this month, led a climate choir in song outside St Paul’s Cathedral as arrests took place in the intersection.

mass sit down in the road in front of Flinders Street Station
photo by Danielle Judd

A spokesperson for Victoria Police said on Saturday night a total of 27 people would be charged on summons and bailed to appear in court. See Channel 9's report 'Climate protesters dragged away by police during sit-in' and the ABC News clip 'Protestors stage act of 'mass civil disobedience' in Melbourne's CBD'

Protester being escorted away by several police
photo by Julian Meehan

XR rebel Brad Homewood, who took part in the Westgate Bridge protest the previous week was still behind bars during the Rebel for Life campaign. Violet and Brad will face the County Court for an appeal hearing on March 19. They have both pleaded guilty to two counts of public nuisance by obstructing motorists and obstructing police and emergency service workers.

Violet told the Age that she felt Extinction Rebellion’s methods were necessary to show people the danger they and their children were in due to climate change. She said:

"It’s not about arrogance. It’s about trying to sound the alarm. If your house is on fire you don’t call a firefighter arrogant for waking you up and trying to get you out of the house."

♥ Please consider contributing to the Fundraiser for Brad

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