Motorists in Brisbane’s CBD have had a slow start to the day, with climate change activists staging a “slow ride” protest through the city.
Members of the Extinction Rebellion group were escorted by police as they slowly cycled down busy streets during peak hour, taking up multiple lanes of traffic.
Dozens of protesters were spotted riding along Tank St, toward Kurilpa Park.
The group also staged a die in, with members lying on the ground next to their bicycles.
Participants said the die in was used to show people what will happen to them if we don’t take action on climate change.
The action frustrated locals, with many lashing out against the protesters on social media.
“How is pissing off the general public helping your cause? And how is slowing down cars and congesting traffic helping with climate change?” one Facebook user asked.
“Awesome work guys, nothing says we are worried about our environment and climate change then holding up a bunch of cars in traffic and leaving a huge carbon footprint,” another said.
One person branded the activists “selfish fools” who think they are “superior” to everyone else.
This protest comes in the lead up to “international rebellion week”, which is set to kick off on October 7, where members of the Extinction Rebellion plan to engage in protest around the world.
Australian members of the activist group have planned protests in all the country’s major cities.
Queensland Police Acting Chief Superintendent, Tony Fleming, said officers are expecting disruptions to occur throughout the week.
“We are finding Extinction Rebellion are difficult to deal with. It appears their approach is designed to cause significant disruption to the community, to interfere with ordinary people going about their business,” he told reporters.
“So our goal is to try and balance the right to protest with the right of people to have freedom of movement and freedom to live their lives.”
Previous tactics used by the groups have involved marches, swarming across roads and blocking traffic, gluing themselves to roads and chaining themselves to objects.
Police have reportedly only been notified about one planned protest for the week, with organisers not seeking permission for any other of the planned events.
Mr Fleming said Extinction Rebellion’s attitude towards the police is in stark contrast with the majority of protests planned in the city each year.
He highlighted the climate change strike that took place on September 20, saying the organisers worked with police to ensure there was minimal disruption to members of the public.
“That was a good productive relationship with the police where people had the chance to have their say,” Mr Fleming said.
“Our experience with members of Extinction Rebellion contrast with that.
“There has been substantial planning and preparation, but as you might appreciate, unlike most protests where people are cooperative with us and tell us what they are planning… here we have somewhat of a big unknown.”
“What I expect is that there is a likely impact of the protest on traffic, pedestrian traffic, vehicle traffic and maybe even public transport.”
Police have launched Operation Romeo Arrowhead to keep traffic flowing in the city during the protests and have prepared for mass arrests that could overflow the capacity of Brisbane watch house.
Mr Fleming said confirmed police would use force if necessary and are planning for mass arrests.
“If that is what is necessary to open up the city then that is what we will do,” he said.
“The last time I saw protests that were spontaneous like this was in the early 1980s.”
The Extinction Rebellion is urging people across Australia to join in on the disruptions planned for next week.
“Together, we will peacefully occupy the centres of power and shut them down. We will demand that governments Tell the Truth about our Climate and Ecological Emergency. We will demand that they Act Now,” the group’s Australian website reads.
“It’s up to you. You can’t count on someone else to do this for you. Not us. Not Greta. It’s time to look inside yourself and take action.”