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October 9, 2019

Climate ‘rebellion’ sees mass arrests


October 9, 2019

Climate protesters from Sydney to New York blocked roads Monday, sparking hundreds of arrests, as two weeks of civil disobedience demanding immediate action to save the Earth from "extinction" kicked off.

The demonstrations, triggered by the group Extinction Rebellion, were mostly limited to a few hundred people in each city, far from the size of last month’s massive Greta Thunberg-inspired protests.

Protesters chained themselves to vehicles and other structures and lay down in the middle of streets in defiance of police across Europe and parts of Asia, Africa and North America. Extinction Rebellion is demanding that governments drastically cut the carbon emissions that scientists have shown cause devastating climate change.

They are backed by Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose searing UN address in September made international headlines, and by academics studying the rising temperatures and sea levels.

Their protests have irritated drivers and some officials but raised the hopes of those who see climate change as a threat to the planet. In London, where the Extinction Rebellion movement was born last year, 276 people were arrested as demonstrators put up structures near Britain’s parliament.

"Getting arrested sends a message to the government that otherwise law-abiding citizens are desperate," IT consultant Oshik Romem, from Israel but working in Britain for 19 years, told AFP.

At New York’s Battery Park, some 200 demonstrators took part in a "funeral march" to Wall Street, where protesters threw fake blood over the financial district’s famous bronze statue of a bull.

"We need imagery like this in order to get people’s attention," 29-year-old James Comiskey told AFP, as he carried a cardboard coffin in the procession. Police arrested more a dozen people who staged a "die-in" -- in which people lay down as if they were dead -- by the bull.

Protests occurred in 60 cities around the world, including New Delhi, Cape Town, Paris, Vienna, Madrid, and Buenos Aires. Hundreds of Australians joined a sit-in on a busy inner Sydney road before being dragged away by the police. Thirty people were later charged. "We have tried petitions, lobbying and marches, and now time is running out," Australian activist Jane Morton said.

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