XR Climate protectors jailed after Westgate Bridge protest

XR Climate protectors jailed after Westgate Bridge protest

Extinction Rebellion Australia, 9 Mar 2024

Three Extinction Rebellion activists were arrested this week after blocking several lanes at the centre of the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne. The banners draped over the truck read, "Climate breakdown has begun" and "Declare a climate emergency" UPDATED 19/3/24 Crown Prosecutors have succeeded getting sentences increased in an attempt to "prevent protesters from participating in democracy" —Violet Coco

The protest was in the lead-up to Rebel for Life March 13-16 - a period of disruptive actions, by Extinction Rebellion and other groups, calling on the government to declare a climate emergency.

The action also coincided with day two of the ASEAN Summit in Melbourne that aims “to look ahead to the next 50 years of ASEAN-Australia cooperation” and “foster economic, climate and clean energy, and maritime cooperation efforts”.


At the County Court of Victoria on Tuesday, Violet and Brad appealed to have their 21-day prison sentences reduced, while crown prosecutors appealed to instead have their sentences increased.

Judge David Sexton said "A message must be sent to like-minded people not to engage in this type of illegality" and increased both sentences to two months.

According to an ABC report Coco said she was "distraught" to learn about the impact of the action on couple who left for a maternity hospital at the time of the road bloackage, but said it did not affect her mission.

"That mother and baby aren't safe because of the climate and ecological breakdown.

"If we don't have immediate action, there's a large chance that baby won't survive to become a mother themselves because of food shortages and climate collapse."

Victoria Police said 13 other call-outs were delayed as a result, as well as three ambulance call-outs.

Violet, Brad and Joe on the truck blocking the Westgate Bridge

The first to be removed from on top of the truck was Joe Zammit, father of three. He was released on bail the same day on the condition he not associate with co-accused and not engage in any unlawful protest activity. Brad Homewood and Violet Coco are appealing 21-day sentences. They have both been refused bail. See article in The Age West Gate Bridge climate protesters appeal three-week jail sentence

Joe apologised to the Melbourne couple who had to pull over on the side of the road to give birth after taking a longer route to the hospital because of the traffic. Joe said "I am deeply, deeply sorry. I would hate for my wife to go through that experience." See ABC News item Couple forced to deliver son on busy Melbourne road amid climate protest which blocked off West Gate Bridge

The Westgate Bridge, aerial view of truck and protesters

Joe also said: "We don't like causing disruption and upsetting people, and we are sorry for that. However, business as usual equals death. We see one war after another, many of them focussed on the control of fossil fuels. We see conferences like this ASEAN gathering based on the illusion that small changes will be enough to preserve a liveable planet, and plausible high-risk scenarios are not even considered. A tiny elite controls political decisions and the mainstream media. 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."

Cartoon showing politicians and fossil fuel magnate standing on a truck

Above: Cartoon by Matt Golding in The Age, 6/3/24

South-East Asian countries have been described as ‘disaster alley’ for climate breakdown, and are highly vulnerable to extreme heat, rendering much of South-East Asia virtually uninhabitable by 2.7°C of warming (and this increase could be reached as early as 2055-2060); as well as sea level rise, which may inundate capitals including Djakarta, Bangkok and Manila, and inundate the Mekong Delta one of the most important rice-growing areas in the world.

These effects are already being felt, and causing massive displacements of people. On average, over 20 million people a year were internally displaced by extreme weather disasters over the 10 years to 2019. Eighty per cent of those displaced live in Asia – home to over a third of the world's poorest people. This is just the beginning.

Given that it will be near impossible for many of the most vulnerable countries to adapt to these devastating impacts, it is the responsibility of Australia, as the third largest exporter of fossil fuels, to mobilise at emergency speed to prevent these risks.

Extinction Rebellion Victoria stands in support of Violet CoCo and Brad Homewood. They are facing 21 days of incarceration for exercising their right to peaceful protest. This punitive sentence is designed to deter regular people from challenging the status quo of climate inaction. It is also designed to prevent Violet and Brad from participating in next week’s Rebel for Life campaign (13-16 March).

We are in the climate endgame: the fires, floods and cataclysmic storms we are seeing are just the beginning. Climate breakdown has begun. Last year, we reached 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, putting us in the danger zone for a cascade of climate feedbacks and runaway warming.

World heating map
Eminent scientists project that in the next 50 years, under business as usual, one-third of the global population will experience a level of heating currently found in only 0.8% of the Earth’s land surface, mainly around the Sahara. “The impacts are projected to increase steeply with the degree of warming. For instance, warming to 2 °C, compared with 1.5 °C, is estimated to increase the number of people exposed to climate-related risks and poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050.” https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1910114117

We have tried petitions and large marches. We have tried disrupting oil companies and coal ports. The government doesn’t care and the multinational fossil fuel companies don’t care. So we are using the tactics successfully employed by Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion Netherlands (who won an agreement to examine an end to fossil fuel subsidies after thousands were arrested sitting on a freeway in Amsterdam). We are ordinary people taking extraordinary action to sound the alarm. We are doing everything we can to preserve a liveable planet for our children and future generations.

We are resolved to continue our disruptive actions. We call on all Australians to join us in non-violent civil disobedience next week (13-16 March).

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