Three charged after protest chaos on busy city bridge

Protest jams Melbourne's West Gate Bridge

Source: X/Sarah Connolly

Three people have been charged with multiple criminal offences after a protest caused traffic chaos on a major Melbourne bridge.

Extinction Rebellion members parked a truck on the city’s busy West Gate Bridge about 7.45am on Tuesday, climbed on top of it and unfurled banners reading, “declare a climate emergency” and “climate breakdown has begun”.

After the trio refused to get off the truck, police used a cherry picker to make the arrests and lower them down safely at 9.45am.

A 33-year-old NSW woman and two Victorian men, aged 68 and 51, have been charged with public nuisance, hindering police, obstructing police and obstruction of a roadway.

All three will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

No one was injured during the incident.

All inbound lanes reopened by 10.15am but VicTraffic warned significant delays remained on the West Gate and Princes freeways, M80 Ring Road and the surrounding area.

Three lanes on the city-bound side of the bridge had been blocked and delays stretched back about 30 kilometres.

Police say the group also lit a flare when on the truck.

In a livestream video posted to the group’s Facebook page, the three protesters called for government action on climate change.

“This is a climate and ecological emergency and our actions every day impact the habitability of our planet for ourselves and for generations to come,” activist Violet Coco said.

“We’re extremely committed to non-violent direct action but we are committed to sounding the alarm on the climate and ecological emergency.

“We are asking the government and all levels of society to declare an ecological emergency and to act on that emergency as soon as possible.”

Extinction Rebellion describes itself as a non-partisan movement that uses non-violent action to demand governments take action on climate change.

Its previous demonstrations have included dozens of people blocking the Montague Street off-ramp during peak hour and a man climbing the spire of the Arts Centre Melbourne last year.

Coco was previously jailed for 13 days after blocking a lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during morning peak hour in 2022.

That incident also involved three people climbing on top of a truck, lighting flares and livestreaming.

Coco was joined on the West Gate Bridge by Brad Homewood and Joe Zammit, who are from Williamstown and Burnside Heights, in Melbourne’s west.

Extinction Rebellion said in a social media post the protest was designed to coincide with the Association of South-East Asian Nations summit in Melbourne.

It wants Australia to declare a climate and ecological emergency at the conference and is calling on other ASEAN leaders to do the same.


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