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Bloor Viaduct reopens after climate change protesters block bridge for several hours

Last Updated Oct 7, 2019 at 2:26 pm EST

Protesters were arrested for blocking the Bloor Street Viaduct for over five hours as a part of a global protest to raise awareness for climate change.

An environmental group called “Extinction Rebellion” says the purpose is to show that major disruptions are inevitable if society fails to act on climate change.

It was expect to last a half-hour but didn’t reopen until around 1:30 p.m.

Several protesters were arrested by Toronto police for mischief after failing to clear the bridge after multiple warnings. It’s unclear at this point how many arrests have been made.


The Toronto chapter said disrupting traffic was a necessary, if inconvenient, tactic.

“In a car-dependent city, interfering with traffic is one of the best ways of interfering with business as usual,” the group wrote in a Facebook post.

“We are not attempting to shame or blame drivers – we all live in a toxic system and have few good options in our daily lives without system change.”

At Halifax’s Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, police moved in about four hours after the demonstration got underway.

Officers arrested 18 people positioned on the artery linking the city to nearby Dartmouth. Early in the day, police said less than a hundred protesters, many of them waving flags and signs, had gathered near the toll plaza on the Dartmouth side.

The Macdonald bridge was reopened to traffic by mid-day.

“I think this is a huge success,” protest organizer Patrick Yancey said just moments before he was arrested.

“I think it’s going to be great for the whole world to see all of the people who are willing to make this sacrifice in order to get some action on this climate crisis.”

Lorna McLagen of Annapolis Royal, N.S., was also among the group arrested. She said she felt compelled to act.

“I’ve been part of the problem for so long and now, before I die, I’d like to try to do something,” said McLagen. “As uncomfortable as it makes me feel, I have to do it.”

In Edmonton, a handful of protesters linked arms to block traffic on the Walterdale Bridge connecting the city’s south side with the downtown core.

Police kept the peace between activists and angry drivers, some of whom got out of their cars to yell obscenities.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney criticized the protesters on Twitter, saying they were preventing workers from reaching their jobs and barring parents from taking kids to school.

“Somehow this is all supposed to be in the name of environment, but hundreds of cars are now idling unnecessarily as they wait,” he wrote.

Around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital’s Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column, in a protest that started in the early hours Monday.

Members of Extinction Rebellion have also set up a camp outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, reflecting dissatisfaction with a climate policy package drawn up last month by her government, ahead of what it called an “international rebellion” starting Monday. It says protests are planned in 60 cities worldwide.

In Amsterdam, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major road outside the Rijksmuseum, one of the city’s most popular tourist draws, and set up tents.

WATCH: Activist group ‘Extinction Rebellion’ takes protests worldwide


The demonstration went ahead despite the city banning activists from gathering on the road. The protesters ignored police calls for them to move to a nearby square.

Back in April, members of the group blocked several London roads and bridges during 10 days of action designed to alert the public and politicians to the “climate emergency.”

Extinction Rebellion wants to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2025.