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Extinction Rebellion protest chaos on Flinders Street

Two men have been charged after climate activists brought a major Melbourne intersection to a standstill, throwing the city’s traffic and public transport into chaos.

Protesters parked a truck with the slogan “doing nothing risks everything” emblazoned on the side on the tram tracks at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston streets on Friday morning.

The pair, both from Williamstown in the city’s west, were charged on Friday afternoon following the protests.

A 31-year-old man was charged with intentionally obstructing a police officer, obstructing a road by allowing a vehicle to remain across such road, being a public nuisance, obstructing emergency workers and committing an indictable offence while on bail.

A 35-year-old man has been charged with intentionally obstructing a police officer and obstructing a road by an assembly of persons. He will next face court in August.

On Friday morning, police directed cars around the truck, while trams travelling along Flinders and Swanston street were completely blocked.

Yarra Trams said Flinders Street and Swanston Street trams were delayed, with commuters unable to access numerous tram routes between the Arts Precinct and Melbourne University.

The intersection was cleared just after 9.30am, with trams resuming straight away.

The protest has been organised by climate activists Extinction Rebellion.

Two protesters were seated on top of the truck, but no one was in the driver’s seat.

Other Extinction Rebellion members appeared to stand on the footpath around the intersection.

Police escorted the two protesters down from the truck about 9.30am after they had occupied the intersection for 90 minutes.

The two men were arrested, loaded into the back of a divvy van and taken to Melbourne West police station.

One of the protesters said he was willing to get arrested and face the legal system because he was “privileged as”.

“Right now we’re in a nonviolent resistance, but hopefully we are avoiding violence in the future,” he said.

“I would encourage people to step into their courage and do the right thing and do the most you can in whatever way it is to have a safe planet and rebel against this government.”

The protest comes ahead of a week of action from March 22 to March 28 across Melbourne’s CBD.

The planned week of “nonviolent civil disobedience” involves several events, including camping in Carlton Gardens, swarming the city, rebel rides and “disco-bedience”.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

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