Firefighters called to help VPD arrest climate protesters in downtown intersection
VANCOUVER -- A group of climate action demonstrators with Extinction Rebellion Vancouver blocked traffic at a busy downtown intersection for several hours Saturday, before Vancouver police moved in and made three arrests.
The protest started at noon with a series of speeches at the Vancouver Art Gallery, with speakers saying elected officials are not doing enough to combat climate change.
"The climate crisis poses an existential threat to humanity and to countless non-human species on this planet,” said protester Kiara Grant.
The group laid out several demands it would like to see government act on, including the extremely ambitious goal of achieving carbon-neutrality by 2025, and the creation of a citizen’s assembly on climate to take the issue out of the hands of elected officials.
"(Citizen’s assemblies) are able to make decisions that affect climate and they can do it now,” said protester Nam Topp-Nguyen. “They don't have to worry about being re-elected."
The group then took to the streets, marching the short distance to BC Supreme Court, where they poured red dye in the street to represent the blood they say is on the hands of politicians who won’t act more swiftly to address climate issues.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, a project already under construction which will triple the volume of petroleum products shipped through the Burrard Inlet, was a key focus of many of the demonstrators.
"We love our land and we love that water like we love our grandmother, and we want to protect it with everything we have,” said Kayah George, an Indigenous woman from the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. “So, we'll do anything we can to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline."
The intersection of Hornby and Smithe was the final stop for Saturday’s demonstration.
Once there, protesters quickly erected a pair of wooden platforms on ten-foot tall tripods, which were then occupied by a man and a woman saying they would not move until arrested.
Another man sat at the base of one of the tripods, also vowing not to move unless arrested.
"Getting arrested is such a small sacrifice to make when they stakes are this high,” said Grant.
After several hours, Vancouver police announced anyone who did not clear the intersection would be taken into custody.
The man sitting at the base of the tripod was the first to be arrested and walked peacefully on his own between two police officers.
A crew of Vancouver firefighters then secured the legs of the first platform with rope, before using a chainsaw to shorten the legs of the wooden tripod piece-by-piece until the woman perched atop the platform could be reached by police, who carried her to a nearby VPD van.
Vancouver firefighters extended a ladder from a truck to reach the man atop the second platform before he was also arrested by members of the VPD.
A police spokesperson could not immediately say what charges would be recommended against the three demonstrators, but a news release issued Saturday evening indicated that they had been arrested for mischief and intimidation by blocking a roadway.
The three people arrested were taken to jail and released on undertakings after they agreed to appear in court on a later date, police said.