Six arrests as climate change protest shuts down Johnson Street Bridge
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, December 3, 2018 10:03AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 4, 2018 10:39AM PST
Six arrests were made following a protest that blocked the Johnson Street Bridge during the Monday evening commute to draw attention to climate change.
More than 200 people assembled in Centennial Square and began marching down Pandora Avenue just before 6 p.m.
Protesters planned to occupy the bridge for 12 minutes, saying the government has 12 years to reverse the climate crisis.
While the bridge wasn't closed for the protest, vehicle traffic wasn't able to get through.
Police officers were present to ensure the safety of participants as well as the public. After about 45 minutes, the majority of protesters left the bridge, but a small group remained behind, keeping the bridge closed for around two hours.
At around 8 p.m. police moved in and arrested the six people who stayed on the bridge as they were applauded by other protesters watching things play out.
"The original plan was to occupy the bridge for 12 minutes but there was such an outpouring of people who wanted to speak out against our government's negligence in dealing with the climate crisis," said Rise and Resist organizer Bobby Arabess. "People felt they couldn't get off that bridge in good consience and they just were taking every opportunity they could to send a strong message to our government that the time is now."
Six protesters were arrested in total, and the bridge reopened just after 8 p.m.
Prior to the demontration, the protest group posted about the event on its Facebook page, saying it coincided with the annual UN Climate Change conference in Poland.
"Supporters will gather in Centennial Square, then march slowly and prayerfully to the Johnson Street bridge," organizers wrote. "We will form circle, light candles and block traffic on the bridge for twelve minutes, for the twelve years we have to turn around the climate crisis."
It came the week after revamped National Energy Board hearings were held in Victoria for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
Members of local First Nations spoke at the hearing about their fears for the expansion, which would twin an existing oil pipeline that terminates in Burnaby, B.C.
Nanaimo began hosting the next round of consultations for the project on Monday.