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When did we start expecting protesters to be polite?

3 0 0
11.10.2019

The climate change "die-in" has divided Canberra. In this opinion piece, we present the case against the protest. But read Steve Evans' piece, too, for another view.

The "bodies" lie in the middle of Commonwealth Bridge in Canberra, strewn across the bitumen, blocking traffic. A leg twitches. Someone stifles a giggle.

But the theatrics hold.

This is the capital's first big "die-in" - a protest designed to bring the city to a standstill, to disrupt business as usual in the home of business of usual, and help governments realise that radical action is now needed to avert the worst effects of climate change or we could all end up...well...you know...

It's dramatic, it's silly, certainly it's inconvenient. But that's the point. And it might just work.

Protesters take over Commonwealth Avenue in protest of climate change inaction. Picture: Peter Brewer

It's easy to be sceptical when you're stuck in a traffic jam and all you can see of the greatest climate movement in history is a few dozen people carrying home-made signs and yelling about the end of the world.

But the school climate strikes - and now the Extinction Rebellion - have seen millions take to the streets in recent months, shutting down cities and towns across the planet. Many veteran activists have hailed the strikes as a "game-changer" for the environmental movement, drawing bigger crowds in Australia than the Vietnam war protests.

What began with a Swedish teen skipping school on a Friday to protest outside her parliament has become a circuit breaker bringing students, parents, teachers, Indigenous communities and workers together under the same banner of "climate justice".

This month's "Spring Rebellion" is still non-violent but decidedly more adult. Activists are scaling bridges, gluing themselves to roads, even marching nude to force a response.........

© Canberra Times