Protesters arrested at multiple locations around Boston as climate change activists target commute routes


“Locations were selected to clog the Central Artery of Boston to prevent employees from getting into the financial district and Seaport.”

Protesters on Congress Street Wednesday morning. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

State and Boston police arrested multiple individuals Wednesday who participated in a protest against fossil fuels, blocking traffic during the morning commute.

State police said they were continuing to monitor protest activity in the Boston area after they arrested five protesters on the on-ramp from Leverett Circle to Interstate 93 in Boston.

Boston police also made arrests in response to the climate protest at “multiple locations,” according to a department spokesperson.

At about 8:30 am, police warned that traffic at Seaport Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue was being diverted because of demonstrators blocking one side of the bridge.

“Please seek an alternate route,” Boston police said.

By 10 am, police said the detour had been cleared.

The group behind the protests, Extinction Rebellion Boston, called on demonstrators to “meet rush hour commuters to make some noise and demand ‘Stop the Fossil Fuel Industry, Now!’”

In a press release, the group said more than 40 participants planned to engage in “mass civil disobedience to disrupt business as usual in the City of Boston,” with demonstrators planning to blockade several of the city’s major traffic routes in order to raise awareness about the climate crisis and to put pressure on officials to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.

The group said it planned specifically to target four sites across the city between 7 am and 9 am in a coordinated manner, including the I-90 off-ramp at the the intersection of Kneeland Street and Atlantic Avenue and the Seaport Boulevard bridge.

“Locations were selected to clog the Central Artery of Boston to prevent employees from getting into the financial district and Seaport,” the group said.

The group said protesters were going to lock themselves to large pink, metal barrels and read messages of their demands.

The group also said other demonstrators would meet at Post Office Square at 7 am and then march through Downtown Boston to the Seaport bridge, joining more than 20 protesters already blocking traffic.

“We are out here blocking roads and disrupting traffic out of desperation,” Alex Chambers, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Boston, said in a statement. “No other form of protest has had an effect on getting the state to take the climate emergency seriously. It is insanity that the state is still permitting new fossil fuel infrastructure in the midst of a climate emergency. We have three years to peak global carbon emissions. After that, we need a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

“We are appealing to the governor and the Massachusetts State Legislature,” Chambers continued. “Do the right thing. Commit to a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

On Facebook, protest organizers wrote about Wednesday’s traffic disruptions: “We’re sorry. This is an emergency and we need your attention.”

“Our demand today is simple: Massachusetts must stop installing new fossil fuel infrastructure,” the group said. “New Natural gas plants (eg Peabody Peaker), pipelines, and hookups hurt frontline communities. They cost the taxpayer, as the infrastructure is designed to last many decades, well beyond the mandatory carbon zero timeline of 2050.”

The group said it was turning toward “nonviolent disruptive action” after trying petitions, letters to Congress, and other venues of raising their concerns.

“We understand that we have interrupted your life today, and we know that your life is important,” they wrote. “That is why we are fighting to protect it, and all lives, before we run out of time.”

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