Police in Victoria are being dragged away from proactive work like reducing road trauma and crime to deal with the “unknown” movements of climate protesters in Melbourne’s CBD.
Demonstrators again blocked intersections across the city on Wednesday evening, determined to deliver on their promise to disrupt the city all week.
The Extinction Rebellion movement caused rolling blockades from one corner to the next on Wednesday, starting at La Trobe and Swanston streets.
They got theatrical too, staging a “last supper” in the water outside the National Gallery of Victoria.
But everyday workers are getting frustrated by the disruptions.
“It’s getting beyond a joke. All you’re doing is stopping good people trying to earn a living,” one tradesman said.
‘It’s getting beyond a joke.’
Police have made 69 arrests so far and the protests are expected to escalate later this week.
A top officer said police have had to suspend some crime-reducing campaigns as they are so busy dealing with the activists.
“What we have had to stop are those proactive police operations,” North West Metro Region Commander Tim Hansen said on Wednesday.
“Those operations around road trauma reductions, those operations around robberies and car jackings, those operations around illicit drug consumption.
“They’ve all had to be put on hold while we all get dragged into the CBD because of the unknown.”
But the activists say it’s the only way they can get their message across, adding that governments are not listening to decades of warnings from scientists.
Police were everywhere in the city on Wednesday evening, again clearing the protesters after making 59 arrests on Tuesday.
Tram strike called off
A planned tram strike was called off earlier in the day because of safety concerns around the climate protests.
Tram drivers had planned to walk off the job between 10am and 2pm on Thursday but the Rail, Tram and Bus Union agreed to postpone the action.
“In a show of good faith, the RTBU have chosen to withdraw their notice to take industrial action this week,” Yarra Tram chief executive Nicolas Gindt said in a statement.