Police arrest climate activists planning to protest on Lions Gate Bridge
VANCOUVER -- Police arrested several climate activists in Vancouver on Monday and thwarted plans to protest oil pipelines and tanker traffic on the Lions Gate Bridge.
The protest was organized by Extinction Rebellion as part of a five-day campaign of disruptive demonstrations planned in the city.
Members had pledged to "occupy the bridge for as long as possible" while calling for the government to end fossil fuel exports through Burrard Inlet.
"Governments aren't acting to ensure a livable planet for the coming generations. Occupying this bridge is an act of desperation," Brent Eichler said in a statement released by the group ahead of the protest.
"They continue business as usual as our planet dies of a thousand harms. It is our sacred duty to protect what remains of life on Earth."
About 50 people gathered near the entrance to Stanley Park around noon, then began marching toward the Lions Gate Bridge.
The Vancouver Police Department said negotiators warned the group they would be arrested if they blocked the busy traffic artery, but that five people refused to leave and were taken to jail.
"While we respect peoples' democratic right to peacefully assemble and express their views, we also understand how frustrating and inconvenient it is for people trying to move around the city when roads and bridges are blocked," Sgt. Steve Addison said in a news release.
Addison added that closing the Lions Gate for "any length of time" would "guarantee gridlock and could put lives at risk."
Two other protesters were arrested later on Monday for allegedly blocking traffic in the city's West End neighbourhood.
Extinction Rebellion's five days of protest began on Saturday, when protesters blocked the intersection of Georgia and Granville streets. Five people were also arrested at that demonstration.
On Sunday, protesters shut down the Granville Street Bridge for several hours, and eight people were arrested for mischief and intimidation to block a roadway.
Days four and five are scheduled to include "teach-ins" in Nelson Park and a bicycle and skateboard ride beginning at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The same group previously shut down the Burrard Street Bridge and took part in rail blockades in support of pipeline opponents from the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alissa Thibault and Kendra Mangione