‘We’re not pests’: Climate activists fear violence
EXTINCTION Rebellion protesters in the CBD this morning say political leaders calling them names will incite violence against the group.
They said cheap political pointscoring by Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington calling protesters ratbags and pests was dehumanising and dangerous.
Rebellion spokesman Greg Rolles said "dehumanising us invites violence".
"I am not a pest," he said.
"I am a former geography teacher. I have a masters degree in international relations and I am just concerned for our future.
"I am a good citizen who is doing his best to do what is right."
Mr Rolles said this morning's action, in which nine people were arrested, was the only thing "left for us to save lives".
"We should be acting like a community trying to solve the climate crisis not scoring cheap political points."
"I'm sorry people feel inconvenienced but I am also sorry there are kids in the world who don't have drinking water because of the climate crisis."
Uni Students for Climate Justice spokesperson Catherine Robertson said police action today was not only "extremely heavy-handed" but "intimidatory".
"They want us to feel that we can't do these things but we have the right to this process," she said.
"We're not going to give it up easily."
She said the police decision not to issue warnings to protesters blocking the roads but carry out immediate arrests was wrong.
"I think that there should be a process where we are given our rights and warnings and I think it shows they are getting annoyed that this movement is growing," Ms Robertson said.
"It also shows the law is being used as a political tool. We know we have the majority of people on our side … most people support action on climate change."
She said politicians were using the "threat of convictions for what is a right (to protest) and I think that is outrageous".
"I think the only way to fight the push from the government and police - that they want to record convictions against peaceful protests - is actually for more people to take to the streets because it is in those numbers that we have the most power and we stand in solidarity. We won't go away."
"I think the entirety of democracy is at risk, our freedom of speech and our democratic right to protest - all of those things are in jeopardy right now and the only way to resist that attack is to actually fight for our rights."
Dozens of police shadowed the protesters this morning with several vans as well as on bicycles.
A number of police were also present photographing protesters as well as filming the proceedings.