A group of climate activists in Boston blocked several major traffic routes in the city on Wednesday, Sept. 21, in an effort to raise attention about the "climate emergency" and to pressure state lawmakers to ban new fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Boston and State Police took at least 15 people into custody after demonstrations throughout the city during the morning commute, WCVB reported, including John Reynolds Burkhardt, 56, of Arlington.
Extinction Rebellion Boston protesters gathered at 7 a.m. on Summer Street and sat in the middle of the street.
'State not taking appropriate action'
"We're out here blocking traffic, because the state is not taking appropriate action base on the scientific evidence that is out there," activist Eleanor Larson told WCVB, Channel 5.
Members of the group appeared to have a sport utility vehicle loaded with large pink barrels that they reportedly planned to use to block traffic.
“This is a climate emergency, and we are sorry for the inconvenience, but we are just sleepwalking into disaster,” Susan Lemont, press spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion in Boston, told WCVB. “We just want everyone to wake up and finally take action and not have any more fossil fuel hookups.”
Dozens of protesters who gathered in Post Office Square marched through the Seaport to Summer Street. Some were carrying signs that read, "Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry Now," the TV station reported.
"We wish that we didn't have to inconvenience people like this, but unfortunately, sometimes, civil disobedience -- loud civil disobedience -- is the only way to get folks to listen. A lot of people aren't aware [of] how dire the situation is," organizer Teddy O'Hea told the station.
"We understand that we interrupted your life today, and we know that your life is important. That is why we are fighting to protect it, and all lives, before we run out of time," the group posted on Facebook.
Boston police arrest 10, State 5
Boston police said they arrested 10 people in connection with the morning protests. Charged with disorderly conduct, WCVB reported, were Perry Thomas Krasow, 62, of Waltham; Nicholas Gardner Bryant, 32, of Boston; Allen Patrick McGonagill, 32, of Somerville; Andrew Reginald Iliff, 41, of Jamaica Plain; Paul Shannon, 75, of Somerville; Benjamin Standish Hayward, 24, of Vermont; Samantha Hayward, 23, of Vermont; William Christopher Regan, 43, of California; and the Arlington man. Maria Luisa Ogden, 60, of Vermont, was also arrested for failure to submit.
Massachusetts State Police said troopers arrested five activists who were in the middle of the roadway on the Leverett Circle Connector. Charged with trespassing on state property, disorderly conduct and conspiracy to commit a crime were Joseph Rogers, 55, of Lyndeborough, N.H.; Grant Rockett, 64, of Jamaica Plain; Mark Dugan, 54, of Newton; Jennifer Smith, 48, of Watertown; and Mary Hansen, 67, of Jamaica Plain.
Troopers also seized two vehicles that the trespassers had parked in two separate travel lanes to block traffic at the busy intersection, police told WCVB. One of those vehicles was carrying three 55-gallon steel drum barrels with holes cut into them and pipes running through the holes, a device known as a “sleeping dragon.”
A “sleeping dragon” is an improvised device made by protesters to secure themselves together, with their arms fed through a pipe or tube that runs through barrels through holes cut into them. Generally, a protester's hands are then locked to the hands of an adjacent protestor inside the barrels,to form a roadblock consisting of a connected series of protesters and barrels.
Police said the seizure of the “sleeping dragons” prevented the protesters from chaining themselves together in the devices to block traffic at the busy intersection used by motorists connecting to and from the Tobin Bridge, Interstate 93, Storrow Drive, Nashua Street and Charles River Dam Road.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who has pressed for tougher regulations to fight climate change, said the city is working hard to address the issue.
"You know, I hear the the urgency that so many activists feel, and we are working as hard as we can every single day to make sure that the city of Boston is moving fast. Public safety and being able to ensure that everybody is safe on our roadways is a really important priority, so I know we were able to resolve that this morning," Wu said.
Extinction Rebellion Boston had issued its advisory Tuesday under an embargo -- a request that the announcement not be publicized until the event began. However, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation issued a public warning about the planned protest.
While embargo requests are common between news outlets and public relations professionals, they are typically agreed to by both parties and do not include threats of widespread disruption.
Most recently, members of Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic along Tremont Street during the height of rush hour on the afternoon of Aug. 2. Video from the scene showed between one dozen and two dozen protesters lying in the street near the intersection with Park Street, holding protest signs and flags. Traffic along the busy stretch of road just down the street from the Massachusetts State House was shut down by the protesters.
This news summary was published Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, based on a report by WCVB.
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