3 Arrestee Profiles

On October 7, 2019, 18 members of Extinction Rebellion Toronto were arrested when they refused to clear the Prince Edward Vidauct during a protest drawing attention to the climate crisis and our government’s inadequate response.

Penny – Retired Church Musician – 72

“Why I am ready to be arrested.” I live in a world where humans plunder and poison the soil, water and air. I can no longer accept this morally corrupt, colonial, capitalist system. Mere words cannot fix the ecological crisis. I must sit in the street, blockade a bridge, or the doors of a fossil fuel funding bank. I choose to disrupt and disobey, while there is still hope for justice and food and shelter for all.

Martin – B.Sc. (computer science and mathematics) – 46 – Software Designer

I was arrested on October 7th. Enough with petitions. Emissions are still going up (2017 and 2018), so government is not failing, it HAS FAILED at its part of the Social Contract. The more people are out there, the less they can arrest. I did this for my nieces and nephews and I did it with love to try to reduce world suffering that IS coming and is already here.  Where is our government’s plan for the risk that this happens in 3 or 4 major world crop regions in the same year? They continue to prove themselves incapable of protecting us because it is impossible for them to vote against corporate interests.  The latest predictions from the science are worse and worse, yet Canadian government does next-to-nothing, with a 2050 target. This is what Extinction Rebellion is calling a crime against humanity.  I am not a climate activist, I am a citizen.

My arrest I would summarize as a day-and-a-bit of needing serious patience to handle extreme boredom and little bit of will power or zen or whatever you draw on to tolerate the negligible sleep you can manage by resting your head on your hands instead of on the hard steel cot.  Mostly it reminds me that we’re fortunate (due to the sacrifices of veterans like my great-uncle, and legal principles embodied in our constitution and charter) to live in a country where at least some people (and I recognize this may not be everyone’s experience, especially if not white) have the freedom to object and report on political objections. While my experience wasn’t pleasant, I was not beaten, disappeared, or murdered, as I might have been in much of the world.

I’m a 72 year old criminal lawyer, and moved to Canada in 1968 to resist the Vietnam War.  I have a daughter, and it was to support her right to a decent future that motivated me to get arrested on October 7.  It’s obvious to me that it is past the time for us to act outside of our comfort zones.

Some of the arrestees after their charges were dropped.

CHARGES DROPPED!

ALL CHARGES HAVE BEEN DROPPED.

On October 7th, in Toronto, 18 members of Extinction Rebellion and Animal Rebellion were arrested on the Prince Edward Viaduct following a peaceful protest. Their choice to risk arrest is a direct response to the government’s inaction in the face of the climate crisis, and the severe impact it will pose to future generations and the life-supporting ecological systems that we all rely on.

They spent a night in jail and have faced many weeks of uncertainty about legal expenses and repercussions while the Crown reviewed the evidence against them.

We are so grateful for their courage and strength. 👊❤️

Today the Crown thankfully withdrew the charges, stating that pursuing them “would not be in the public interest.” We believe this is a sound decision – the State should not use public resources to punish its people for reacting to political inertia. Instead, the State should be focusing on confronting the impending ecological collapse which threatens us all.

We do not take getting arrested lightly. Choosing to be arrested is a reaction to the dire situation we will soon all be facing. We know that to be able to choose to be arrested is a privilege that many others do not have. We recognize that many communities face systemic harm and violence at the hands of police and the State because of their continued resistance to oppression. We stand in solidarity with countless Indigenous activists and hope to bring awareness to the ongoing harm experienced by land and water defenders all across Turtle Island.

We are committed to ongoing activism and disruption. Our demands are the following:

TELL THE TRUTH – The government must work with the media to tell the truth about climate change and declare a state of emergency
ACT NOW – The government must act now to reach net-zero carbon emissions and halt biodiversity loss by 2025
BEYOND POLITICS – That the government moves beyond politics and create a citizens’ assembly to guide this transition so that it works for everyone – not just wealthy lobbyists.

With Love & Rage,

XR TO Team

Snap Action against Bolsonaro

On Thursday, everyone was talking about the fires in the Amazon — so we teamed with animal rights’ activists and Fridays for Future Toronto to mobilize almost a hundred people at the Brazilian consulate on Friday.

Everyone is talking about the fires in the Amazon — but not everyone knows that these fires were started on purpose to drive out indigenous people and clear land for cattle ranchers. Bolsonaro campaigned on this policy and world leaders said almost nothing — until the fires got completely out of control — because they didn’t want to risk their precious trade deals.

Extinction Pavillion at the CNE

XR Toronto greeted visitors to the CNE with an ‘Extinction Pavillion’ that shared info about the many animals — including the Northern White Rhino — that have gone extinct in recent years. We also shared our strategy of mobilizing 3.5% of the population to participate in non-violent civil disobedience in order to force the government to meet our three demands:

  1. Tell the truth.
  2. Act Now. Act to reach net-zero and halt the biodiversity collapse by 2025.
  3. Launch a People’s Assembly to oversee this environmental preservation.

July 23, 2019 – The Questions – Week 2

On July 23, 2019, Extinction Rebellion Toronto continued our weekly traffic blockades where rebels formed a human chain and obstructed east and west-bound traffic at the intersection of Bloor and St. George Streets in 5-minute intervals. 

We held signs asking the urgent questions that our leadership in the political, corporate, and media spheres have been unable to address such as How many species must die before you act? How will my children survive? Who does the government serve? 

While some drivers were upset by the disruption, we received a great deal of support from motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians during the action.

Around 6:20pm, a motorist drove through the blockade and struck three rebels who sustained minor injuries. Police responded immediately, and the driver was arrested. We’d like to thank the Toronto police officers on the scene for ensuring everyone’s safety and supporting our right to protest.

Thanks to all the rebels present for sticking steadfast to our principles and remaining peaceful and calm. We have come out of this stronger and more determined than ever to fight for action on the climate crisis. 

During our debrief, one of our rebels asked us to remember this: Sometimes, when we are headed in one direction and an obstacle arises, we are so focused on where we are going that we don’t realize how simple it is to turn around and go in another direction. This is what happened today to the driver who drove through our line, but it is also what is happening to our society as a whole. It’s time for all of us to realize we can simply turn around and go in another direction for the climate.

While it’s unfortunate that this incident occurred, Extinction Rebellion Toronto remains committed to nonviolent direct action to demand the government act right now to address the climate emergency. 

Please join Extinction Rebellion next Tuesday July 30, 2019 at 5:45pm at Bay and King as we continue to ask the urgent questions that our leaders are ignoring.

In Love and Rage,

Extinction Rebellion Toronto

About Extinction Rebellion:

Time is running out. The ecological crisis is upon us, and we have now entered the 6th mass species extinction as a result of unabated global pollution, and extreme, compounding global heating. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by our world’s leading scientists, who have warned us that human extinction is also a possibility if rapid corrective action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion exists to ensure that action IS taken. We are dedicated, non-violent, and compassionate defenders of our future generations’ right to a viable existence. We believe it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal environmental negligence by our government.

Extinction Rebellion’s Three Demands:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a binding climate and ecological emergency, and by working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice. More info here.

The Questions – Week 1

Extinction Rebellion Toronto held our first roadblock in the Questions Series on July 16th and despite the heat and an aggressive, climate-denying street preacher, we stood our ground and kept the vibe loving. Our regenerative culture group did an outstanding job keeping everyone calm and collected and our actions and logistics team adjusted to unforeseen circumstances like old pros.

We had a lot of support from passers-by and cyclists and even some drivers. Others, were understandably frustrated. We are genuinely sorry for disrupting people, we would also have preferred to be chilling in the shade watching the leaves rustling — but our government has failed to act with sufficient urgency and we have exhausted all traditional means of political organizing.

Some asked ‘how will this stop climate change?’ We, as a group, are under no illusions that 50 people slowing traffic will make the government cave to our demands. However, studies of protest movements have found that mobilizing 3.5% of the population in an ongoing disruption usually lead to rapid change. Our aim is to grow rapidly until we can not be ignored. And it’s working — our orientation sessions are packed and our working groups are all growing rapidly. For those who still critique our approach we ask “do you have a better plan?” Because we have tried petitions and letters to our MPs and voting and personal footpring reductions and emissions STILL ROSE IN 2018.

Join us on Tuesday July 23 at 5:15 at St. George and Bloor where we will ask the University of Toronto when they plan to take action.

4 Corners Climate Circus

On June 25th we were at the corner of King and Bay from 8AM-6PM announcing the obvious: climate emergency. We were also calling on banks and bankers and investment professionals to divest themselves from fossil fuels — both for the sake of the planet and their own bottom line, because we all know the CARBON BUBBLE is going to pop real soon — and the Tar Sands Bubble is going to pop even sooner! Even OIL COMPANIES are already moving away from high-carbon sources like the Tar Sands.

We had a funk band (Commander and Thief), young people singing original songs about climate, a full choir, hula dancers, dozens of clowns, spoken word, entrancing story-telling, bubbles, t-shirt making, an ABSURD street theatre piece in which bankers and politicians in masks battled for control of the economy and a huge inflatable globe. It was general, joyous chaos. And even in the heart of the financial district we mostly got positive responses.

Some people said we should have sent more targetted demands to the banks, but honestly, we’re not naive, we don’t think the banks are going to listen to a couple hundred Torontonians making music on their doorstep — our message was to the public, to the bankers as individuals:

There is a climate emergency. You know it. You see it in the news. Chennai — which is the size of three Torontos — has ALREADY RUN OUT OF WATER. It’s time to choose sides. Are you on the side calling for climate action that meets the demands of science? Or are you on the side that will continue blindly with business as usual until society collapses? Because we need hundreds of thousands to join us in the streets as soon as possible.

If you missed it, we are definitely doing this again.