On Monday, in more than 60 major cities across the world, an activist movement called the Extinction Rebellion began a week-long campaign of peaceful protests. Isolated gatherings have swelled in the past two days, and the disruption to metropolitan centres, including those of Sydney and Melbourne, has grabbed global headlines. City workers, tourists and public transport hubs have been most notably impacted by the protests, which continue to gain momentum. These are the essential facts you need to know about how your city is being affected.
Who are the Extinction Rebellion?
This worldwide movement – which is campaigning for action “to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of societal collapse” – shares some similarities with the Global Climate Strike, when hundreds of thousands of Australians across the country rallied last month to protest against government inaction over climate change. Where the Extinction Rebellion differs is in its methods. Much like the American Civil Rights Movement or the Gay Liberation Movement, the Extinction Rebellion is using “civil disobedience” as a non-violent form of protest, disrupting the usual ebb and flow of the city by refusing to comply with certain laws or government commands.
In Sydney and Melbourne, dozens of arrests have been made to remove peaceful protestors from blocking traffic. Other demonstrations have swarmed public spaces, quite literally in the case of Tuesday’s “Bee-Mergency”, where more than 100 activists staged a mock en masse death in the middle of Hyde Park dressed as bees, the essential pollinators of crops and wildlife habitats that are in rapid decline.
What has happened so far?
In addition to Hyde Park’s Bee-Mergency yesterday, the Extinction Rebellion (or XR as they are also known) staged a peaceful sit-in blockade of Broadway, which resulted in the arrest of 38 people on Monday. The Extinction Rebellion protestors are a multi-generation group, with those arrested in Sydney so far ranging in age from 19 to 75 years old.
What more can we expect?
The “Spring Rebellion” is planning further demonstrations for at least the rest of this week. This may cause traffic jams, public transport suspensions and blocked pedestrian pathways. A flash mob on Sydney’s public transport network is expected today, beginning at 9am, which may disrupt usual service. If you are travelling through Sydney CBD, either by car or by public transport, allow more time for your journey and be prepared to reroute your usual commute.