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18 arrested during climate change protest that shut down Macdonald Bridge

WATCH: Protesters with Extinction Rebellion took over the MacDonald Bridge for several hours. As Jesse Thomas reports, 18 people were later arrested by police.

Eighteen people were arrested during a climate change protest that prompted the closure of the Macdonald Bridge on Monday morning.

The protest started just after 7:30 a.m. on the Dartmouth side of the bridge, prompting a heavy police presence and leading officers to block off all entry points.

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READ MORE: Climate change protest to close Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge during Monday morning rush hour

Halifax Regional Police (HRP) say the bridge was closed “in the interest of public safety.”

In a news release Monday afternoon, HRP spokesperson Const. John MacLeod said officers gave the protesters a fixed amount of time to leave the premises.

When they did not, MacLeod said 18 of the protesters were arrested under the Protection of Property Act and issued a fine of $237.50. 

Climate Change Protest in Halifax
Climate Change Protest in Halifax

READ MORE: Climate change activists block bridges, cause traffic chaos across Canada

“Halifax Regional Police would like to reiterate that we respect people’s right for peaceful protest and that public safety has been our top consideration as we planned our response for the Macdonald Bridge protest,” MacLeod said in the release.

“Our deployment decisions were made in close consultation with partners, especially the Halifax Harbour Bridges, in the interest of safety of commuters, protestors and members of the public.”

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The demonstration was previously announced by Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia. The group’s plan was to block access to the structure through a bridge takeover in an effort to “raise awareness about the climate crisis.”

Climate protest to shut down Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge
Climate protest to shut down Halifax’s Macdonald Bridge

Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia is part of an international movement that started in the U.K. in 2018 and has been established in more than 56 countries. The organization aims to use non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to address and cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert a climate crisis.

“This has been in the works for months,” said Patrick Yancey, an organizer with Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia. “We have to keep the pressure on … we can’t keep hitting the snooze button on the fire alarm, we have to treat this like the emergency it is.”

Extinction Rebellion NS are asking the province to plot a clear plan when it comes to closing coal and biomass burning for electricity and instead focus on using wind, solar and storage instead, while specifically keeping up with the commitment to close Boat Harbour to effluent from Northern Pulp and stopping the Alton Gas Storage project.

Halifax Transit changed its routes that regularly travel over the Macdonald Bridge in preparation for the protest.

READ MORE: Climate rally in Halifax highlights defining issue youth are facing head on

The Macdonald Bridge reopened to vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians at around 12:30 p.m.

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