BOSTON — Commuters in and around Boston were told to pack a little extra patience Wednesday morning due to a planned climate protest on city streets that caused traffic delays and resulted in at least 15 arrests.
Extinction Rebellion Boston members on Tuesday announced a plan to meet at Post Office Square at 7 a.m. and start marching through downtown Boston, prompting MassDOT to issue a warning to drivers to prepare for detours and disruptions.
Shortly after the protest kicked off, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Police said that five people, three men and two women, had been taken into custody on the ramp from the Leverett Circle Connector to Interstate 93.
The following suspects were slated to be arraigned in Boston courts:
- Joseph H. Rogers, 55, of Lyndeborough, New Hampshire, is charged with trespassing on state property, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
- Grant F. Rockett, 64, of Jamaica Plain, is charged with trespassing on state property, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
- Mark A. Dugan, 54, of Newton, is charged with trespassing on state property, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
- Jennifer M. Smith, 48, of Watertown, is charged with trespassing on state property, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
- Mary E. Hansen, of Jamaica Plain, is charged with trespassing on state property, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
“Within minutes after troopers cleared the trespassers and prevented them from blocking the road, at least two ambulances drove through the area that would have otherwise been gridlocked, underscoring the importance of not allowing protestors to block roadways,” state police said in a statement.
Officers with the Boston Police Department arrested 10 additional protestors, officials said. They have not yet been identified.
Boston 25′s Robert Goulston captured video of protestors sitting in the middle Summer Street near the city’s Fort Point Section. They had pamphlets in hand that read, “Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry Now.”
Another group of about 40-50 people were spotted walking down Congress Street with a large banner that read, “Envision a Better World.” That march stopped in the area of Seaport Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.
That group then stopped on the Seaport Boulevard Bridge around 8:30 a.m., where they held their ground for about an hour before retreating back to Post Office Square. While on the bridge, they unfurled a massive white banner with the words, “Underwater By 2050. ACT NOW.”
Traffic was diverted at Seaport Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue due to protestors who completely blocked one side of the bridge. The area was reopened to traffic shortly after 10 a.m.
State police also seized two vehicles that the trespassers had parked in two separate travel lanes to block traffic. One of those vehicles, a 2017 Ford F-250 pickup truck, was carrying three 55-gallon steel drum barrels with holes cut into them and pipes running through the holes, a device known as a “sleeping dragon.”
A sleeping dragon is an improvised device made by protestors to secure themselves together, with their arms fed through a pipe or tube that runs through barrels through holes cut into them, according to state police.
“Generally, a protesters hands are then locked to the hands of those next to them inside the barrels, to form a roadblock consisting of a connected series of protestors and barrels,” state police said.
The seizure of a total of four sleeping dragons is said to have prevented the protestors from chaining themselves together in the devices to block traffic at a busy intersection that connects traffic to and from the Tobin Bridge, Route 93, Storrow Drive, Nashua Street, and Charles River Dam Road.
In a post made to Facebook amid the protest, Extinction Rebellion Boston wrote, “In regards to today’s disruption: We’re sorry. This is an emergency and we need your attention. We demand that Massachusetts ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
MassDOT tweeted out an advisory to drivers on Tuesday night, alerting the public of the protest group’s plan to disrupt travel along several routes in Boston.
This is not the first time Extinction Rebellion has blocked city streets in protest. Back in August, the group blocked Tremont Street during the height of rush hour traffic. A spokesperson for the group said the protest was a call for immediate government action on the climate.
Then one year ago, eight members from the same group were arrested after they chained themselves to a pink boat parked in front of Governor Baker’s Swampscott home. The words “climate emergency” were painted on the boat.
On the group’s website, they say they want to make some noise and stop the fossil fuel industry.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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