Halifax ‘last stand” in climate change action

by Bogumil Pacak-Gamalski

mature woman waiting to be arrested – last one from the entire group

In a previous post I have shown you a series of snapshots of the youthful climate action protest that spread through the entire country and indeed – the entire world. Millions of young people, supported by many allies from adult community, followers of symbolic leadership of young girl, a child almost, from Sweden – Great Thunberg.

By European Parliament from EU – Greta Thunberg at the Parliament, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81699733

That was the large crowd of determined but polite protesters. Today’s protest showed the fringe, more angry and demanding groups. People, usually from poorer segments, who because of their economic status are much more vulnerable to negative impact of the rapid climate change. Who, in other words, have really nothing to loose since they have very little to begin with.

Across Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax – to name few large cities) they decided to block for few hours important urban bridges. Yes, they knew it would inconvenience many , who used these bridges to go to work, shop. And that was the point. Yes – to inconvenience people. To let them know that things are not normal. That we have passed the point of no return. That something needs to be done or the price will grow and grow to truly catastrophic size. There were many groups representing anarchists, communist (or claiming to be communist – I talked to some and really have big doubts of their knowledge of communist system – and I do, very personal). But that’s good, that’s important. We need ‘crazies’ like them, who make us sometime a bit uncomfortable. In democracy there is no greater danger than complacency. When we start looking more for the benefits just for ourselves, not willing to pay a fair share for the benefit of the entire society – bad things do happen. Just look to US, Poland and other populist regimes.

Pretending to be a bit stupid and uninformed onlooker, I asked a young and polite policewoman why the small group of sitting protesters are being detained and arrested since the bridge is closed anyway, they are not causing any visible harm to others or to the infrastructure (the bridge or the road leading to it) and seem to be exercising their democratic right to protest. She answered very nicely that they are being removed from a private property. Again, pretending to be shocked, I asked with bewilderment: but it is city, therefore public, road and so is the bridge, isn’t it? She politely answered – no, the Bridge Authority is a private company and the protesters have extended their time granted for the protest and have to be removed from the private property. I continued in my ignorance the query: O! I didn’t know that. Am I trespassing now myself on private property?! she replied with smile: no sir, you are not. So I pressed again: Officer, can you tell me if the Bridge Authority paid the City (citizens od the city) for the construction of the bridge and the road? She answered perplexed a bit and I think that she finally get my ‘acting’: I do not know that , sir. All we are doing is just following the law. You have to talk to the company or to the City Hall. I smiled and thank her for her assistance. There was no point of making her feel more uncomfortable. She truly was just doing her job.

But can we all, down, deep in our soul, always use that defence: I am just doing my job? Maybe half an hour later I went to a store near by. Waiting in line to the cashier, I overheard few women conversing about the protest. They exchanged their opinion and at the end the older one summarize it: ‘but they can’t do anything, they can’t change anything, just a waste of time and inconvenience for the rest of us. What can we do?’ I turned to them, apologizing for butting-in, and said: I’m not sure that they can’t do anything. After all, you nice ladies just talked about it. Sometimes talking about something makes us realizing that there is something to think and talk about. They look at me for a second and answered with nice smile: Hmmm, I think you are right sir. Thank you..

Below is just a viewpoint of the protest on the Dartmouth side of the bridge.

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