Eco warriors plan to shut down Douglas Street and march on highstreet banks, in a coordinated protest on April 22 for Earth Day.
Inspired by the Extinction Rebellion protests in the UK, which have seen hundreds of protesters occupying an important London bridge and roads, the groups plan a day of resistance and direct action.
The midday demonstrations are being organized by local groups Rise and Resist and Extinction Rebellion – Vancouver Island.
The groups say, “a coalition of concerned citizens will be taking over the streets of so-called Victoria on Earth Day, Monday April 22 at noon, to draw attention to the perilous climate emergency currently striking the planet,” adding, “members of the community from all walks of life are demanding urgent action in the face of possible extinction of life as we know it.”
The groups hope demonstrators will engage in peaceful direct action, blocking traffic on Douglas Street in what they call a “display of grassroots resistance for climate justice” before marching to “the doors of the downtown banks complicit in directly financing climate disaster projects.”
Critics say the planned event is self-indulgent and inconveniencing citizens risks alienating the middle majority, who might otherwise be sympathetic to their green agenda. It is also unclear why downtown bank branches are being targeted instead of investment banking divisions.
The group say they will target the downtown branches of CIBC, RBC, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust to stop investing in fossil fuels companies and call on them to instead re-invest the hundreds of billions of dollars they spend on oil, coal and gas into clean energy infrastructure and jobs.
This year has seen a wave of climate protests around the world as UN scientists and federal bodies have expressed their alarm at growing climate change. The most recent climate change protests in Victoria were led by school students on March 15, as part of a school walk-out across Vancouver Island.
The demonstrators say their protests will include a theatrical street procession, presided over by the Rebel Earth Goddess Velvet Unicorn, a colourful parade float. They say it will be adorned with native vegetation from Lekwungen territory and will form the centrepiece of a “prayerful procession in step with the solemn beating of drums.”
Street performances and “invisible theater” are planned, as well as bystanders being encouraged to join in shouting slogans at the banks and their workers.
Mark MacIntyre, Director of Community Engagement at VicPD, said in a statement, “As with all potential protests, we will be monitoring this event but we don’t speculate on possibilities ahead of time. Our goal is always a safe and respectful event for both protesters and bystanders alike.”