Aussie police arrest climate protester hanging from 50m-high bridge

Xinhua
Australian authorities arrested a climate protester hanging from a harness beneath the Story Bridge, which is about 50 meters above the Brisbane River.
Xinhua

Australian authorities arrested a climate protester hanging from a harness beneath the Story Bridge, which is about 50 meters above the Brisbane River.

Calling on the Queensland State government to declare a climate emergency, the 49-year-old rock climber Paul Jukes told reporters after being taken into custody, "I was doing it without causing any harm to anyone, without causing any disruption," he said.

"I was safe, had everything I needed and I was waiting for the (State) Premier to come back with an answer."

In the past 48 hours, there's been a wave of environmental demonstrations around the country as a part of the global Extinction Rebellion protests taking place in numerous cities across the world.

A spokeswoman for the group, Laura Harland, said the man taken into custody is a member of the movement and his actions were not part of the larger planned protests organized for Brisbane this week.

"The group is an autonomous, decentralized movement," Harland told local media on Tuesday.

"Most actions, everyone in the movement isn't going to know about. (This protest has been) organized by a smaller group (within Extinction Rebellion)."

Although Jukes added that he planned to stay there "as long as it took," the protester said he decided to climb out "to save police the trouble".

While some praised the actions of the experienced climber, others were not so pleased about the six-hour stunt, describing it as a waste of "valuable emergency services."

"Honestly, enjoying our rights in Australia to safely protest does not give you the right to act like a moron and tie up valuable emergency services," Queensland Ambulance Service medical director Stephen Rashford twitted.

Across other cities in the country, similar drama continued for a second day.

Around 50 people were arrested for blocking traffic in Melbourne's Central Business District this morning, as hordes of demonstrators held banners and chanted slogans demanding the government do more on the issue of climate change.

With at least 38 people also arrested in Sydney on Monday for various offences, the protests were a little more subdued on Tuesday.

About 100 people people dressed in bee costumes swarmed Hyde Park in an attempt to warn the public about the threat climate change poses to some animals.

"As a farmer, I have no other option but to put my body and my liberty on the line," Peter Matthison, a bee-keeper from New South Wales State told the Australian Associated Press before being arrested.

So far it's been reported that a total of three arrests have been made in Sydney on Tuesday.

"While police respect the right of individuals and groups to protest, we have a responsibility to the community and local businesses to ensure they can go about their normal activities without being impacted on or put at risk," Central Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, despite the warnings issued by local police and our colleagues from across the country, this group continues to set out to break the law and put themselves and others at risk."

"We are aware that this particular group of protestors intend to cause significant disruption to the community, and any future activity of this nature will not be tolerated by NSW Police."

"Anyone who chooses to flout the rules and cause trouble should expect to feel the full force of the law," he added.  

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