123 Arrested as Climate Activists Block Central Bridge in Finnish Capital
The demonstrators urge the Finnish government declare a climate emergency and act more forcefully on the climate change, including binding legislation in order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, a decade ahead of the government's current goal of 2035.
Climate activists from Elokapina, Finland's arm of the international movement Extincion Rebellion, shut down Pitkäsilta, or the Long Bridge, in central Helsinki to traffic on Wednesday evening, causing delay and disruption, national broadcaster Yle reported
Activists announced the demonstration five minutes in advance via Twitter; the message ended with “We are very sorry about the disturbance”. Ultimately, about two hundred protesters gathered, sitting on the driveway at each side of the bridge and effectively shutting off all traffic. Rescue vehicles, however, were still allowed to pass.
The police had not been notified in advance. However, two hours into the demonstration, the police intervened and started to arrest the demonstrators, as previous calls to end the disruption had failed. All in all, 123 activists were apprehended and issued fines for disobeying the police.
The climate activists from Elokapina have now been demonstrating in Helsinki for a week. So far, their biggest feat was to stop traffic on Mannerheim Street, Helsinki's main thoroughfare. The activists notoriously declined the police's request to hold the demonstration elsewhere to avoid disturbance by stressing that their goal was specifically to create disruption.
The purpose of Elokapina's demonstrations is to persuade the government to declare a climate emergency and act more forcefully on the climate change. Among others, the demonstrators urge the Finnish government to create binding legislation that will achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, a decade ahead of the government's current goal of 2035.
However, the protests were condemned by politicians ranging from the party of power to the opposition. Among others, Antti Lindtman, the chair of the ruling Social Democrats' parliamentary group, disapproved of Elokapina's riotous ways, stressing that there are “other ways” to express opinions in Finland than blocking traffic on the main street.
30 September 2021, 06:07 GMT
Starting from mid-September, motorists the UK also saw a series of roadblocks by an environmental group called Insulate Britain, which is also affiliated with Extinction Rebellion and demands efforts to improve home insulation in order to reduce energy consumption in the country. However, their protests were condemned by many politicians as well, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who branded them “irresponsible crusties”.