6 august 2019

Queensland police arrest 56 climate change protesters in Brisbane

It’s the latest climate protest by environmental group Extinction Rebellion to hit Brisbane

Ben Smee, The Guardian, Tue 6 Aug 2019

Queensland police have arrested and charged 56 people at continuing climate protests in Brisbane, amid accusations officers employed heavy-handed and aggressive tactics to deal with the escalating civil disobedience.

The action, which was ongoing in the city centre on Tuesday afternoon, is the latest and largest in a series of protests by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion.

The first “rebellion day” protesters stopped traffic in William Street, near the state parliament, about 7am. Police made arrests for contravening directions, obstructing traffic and breaches of the peace. Those arrested were aged 19 to 73.

One of the protesters, Ben Pennings, was arrested after crashing a press conference by the Brisbane lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, on Tuesday morning.

Pennings raised concern police were starting to get “heavy handed” in response to the protest and anger from media outlets and the state Liberal National party.

10 News First Queensland (@10NewsFirstQLD)

CLIMATE PROTESTS: Police say a member of the public tackled a protester being chased by police during today's "Rebellion Day" protests in the Brisbane CBD. So far 56 people have been charged.

“It’s a concern to see police crash tackle a young man simply trying to avoid getting off the road,” Pennings said of an incident early on Tuesday. “A doctor also protesting had to take care of him until an ambulance arrived.”

Ben Pennings (@BenPennings)

.@QldPolice starting to get heavy handed, as demanded by the @couriermail and @LNPQLD. Shame to see young people getting injured when all #ExtinctionRebellion folk so peaceful and friendly. #qldpol
August 6, 2019

Police told Fairfax media it had been “some time” since so many people have been arrested at one time in the city.

Concerns about police response follows the arrest of French journalists at Abbot Point coal terminal last month, and subsequent criticism that their actions, including the imposition of bail conditions were an “abuse of power”.

“The Queensland Police Service acknowledges the right to lawful and peaceful protest, and the QPS is committed to working with groups that are cooperative and facilitating protest through lawful activities,” police said in a statement.

“Police and partner agencies are working closely to manage the protest and minimise as much as possible disruptions to transportation networks.”

Protests, calling for action on climate change and a transition away from thermal coal, have increased in frequency and intensity since the Adani Carmichael coalmine received key approvals from the Queensland government.

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