Global protest group Extinction Rebellion is now shutting down traffic in Toronto
Dozens of activists closed off at least two major downtown Toronto intersections on Tuesday night during the first of what's expected to be a series of weekly traffic disruptions, all aimed at calling out government inaction against climate change.
The Extinction Rebellion, which started in the U.K. around October of 2018, bills itself as "an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse."
Organizers and participants have three core demands of government officials: That they tell the truth about the the scope and scale of the climate crisis, that they take action to halt biodiversity loss immediately, and that they "create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens' Assembly on climate and ecological justice."
Hundreds of individual Extinction Rebellion (or "XR") groups have popped up all over the globe since the movement's first organized action in London, including one in Toronto — and they're letting their presence be known.
"We're coming back to Yonge and Dundas to launch our weekly roadblocks. Block off all your Tuesdays at least until September," reads the Facebook description of an event hosted yesterday by Extinction Rebellion Toronto.
"Please wear black. This event will take place in dignified silence," the event description continued. "We will be carrying signs with the questions everyone else in the city seems to be ignoring."
The group began "swarming" — a process that involves blocking traffic for a few minutes, then letting cars pass through, and then blocking traffic again — around 5:45 p.m. last night and into the evening.
At least 40 people are said to have been present for the protest, which moved between Yonge-Dundas Square and the intersection of Yonge and Queen.
Participants held signs with questions meant to gently challenge passersby into thinking about climate change and what their leaders are doing to address it.
Members of the group can be seen in photos forming a human chain to obstruct traffic at Yonge and Dundas, silently asking such questions as "which side are you on?" "if not you, then who?" and "who does our government serve?"
To motorists who were upset by the peaceful protest, organizers had this to say:
"We're sorry to bother you, but climate breakdown is going to be way, way, way more inconvenient. So we recommend you park your car somewhere and come join us."
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