Extinction Rebellion Vancouver succeeds in taking over Burrard Bridge and blocking vehicle traffic

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      Around 200 people are participating in today's climate protest on the Burrard Bridge, despite the pouring rain.

      It's Extinction Rebellion's first major direct action in Vancouver and judging by the turnout, it can be deemed a success.

      Traffic has been halted for a couple of hours, as of this writing, with demonstrators milling about in the middle of the road.

      Extinction Rebellion Vancouver spokesperson Grace Grignon told the Straight that the bridge takeover came after months of planning.

      "It's life or death," Grignon said. "This is truly the last chance that we have. And we need to disrupt business as usual to make our voices heard and demand climate action now."

      A large crowd occupied the middle of the bridge.
      Charlie Smith

      There are lots of police officers watching events unfold. One police vehicle is on the bridge.

      According to Grignon, Extinction Rebellion activists have been undergoing nonviolent direct action training in recent weeks.

      "It basically goes over nonviolent tactics—how to sort of monitor yourself and keep calm when someone is trying to provoke you," she said. "And how to deal with police."

      This police SUV was the only vehicle on the bridge around 9:45 a.m.
      Charlie Smith

      Extinction Rebellion was founded last year in the U.K. by Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook.

      It's evolved into a decentralized global movement that promotes nonviolent civil disobedience to demand meaningful climate action from governments and corporations.

      Chapters around the world, including in Vancouver, rely on similar tactics as those used in the U.S. civil rights struggle and the anticolonial movement in India.

      Since then, peaceful civil disobedience has also led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany, the demise of Communism in Eastern Europe, and the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.

      These protesters on the northeast side of the bridge met the marchers coming from the southwest side of the bridge.
      Miles Kier

      "We do more than just protesting," Grignon said. "We are actually willing to get arrested and we think that this needs mass arrests to get the attention and treated like the crisis that it is."

      Since it formed, Extinction Rebellion has held disruptive street protests in many cities.

      Today, it's launching an "International Week of Rebellion" in more than 60 cities.

      In Halifax, 18 people were arrested for blocking traffic on the Macdonald Bridge.

      Watch this video of the protest on the Burrard Bridge.

      At the Vancouver protest, demonstrators carrying a large green banner marched from the southwest side of the Burrard Bridge.

      They met another group of demonstrators marching with a large orange banner from the northeast side of the bridge.

      Each banner had the distinctive Extinction Rebellion logo.

      A police barricade turned traffic away from the Burrard Bridge at West 1st Avenue.
      Charlie Smith

      Extinction Rebellion has three demands:

      1. Governments must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions [including the media] to communicate the urgency for change.

      2. Governments 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.

      There's a party taking place in the middle of the Burrard Bridge over False Creek.