It isn't on quite the same scale as the Suez Canal — where a wedged-tight cargo ship has halted global shipping through the passage — but downtown drivers in Portland now have a boat blockage to call their very own.
Climate activists with Extinction Rebellion America, Cascadia Coalition dropped anchor on the Southwest Alder Street eastbound on-ramp to the Morrison Bridge — with some in the crew chaining themselves to a fuchsia-hued pleasure craft dropped off by a rented pickup — around 1 p.m. Saturday, March 27.
National community organizer Will Regan said the installation was spurred by bureaucrats' "greenwashing" of Portland's Climate Emergency, which calls for the city to produce net zero emissions by 2050.
"I will be 72 by that point. This is something that we could be solving tomorrow. We could throw everything at it," Regan said. "That is completely unacceptable. This is the kind of stuff that gets Greta Thunberg so mad. Net zero by 2050 is way too late."
Regan and other activists sprawled on yoga mats, their arms locked inside pipes attached to the boat rack carrying the watercraft, which had slogans including "act now" and "no safe harbor" painted on its pink hull. Others carried a banner reading "Climate f--king emergency" and gave speeches to the slowed traffic.
Climate activists have just shut down the eastbound Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) March 27, 2021
Extinction Rebellion members chained themselves to a boat and set up barricades
Their message: â€œClimate fâ€”king emergencyâ€ pic.twitter.com/0oGeaXAJfa
Eugene demonstrator Michelle Wehner noshed on a burrito with her one free hand while lambasting the city's Climate Emergency, which was formally declared in 2020, saying the city "has done zero to act on it."
"I'm just petrified about the future, about my grandson's future," Wehner said.
The eastbound lanes over the Willamette River were mostly quiet as the main bridge ramp closed to all but bicycle traffic. A few drivers continued over the water using the Southwest Naito Parkway ramp to the Morrison Bridge.
In a news release describing the blockade as "an act of creative disruption and nonviolent civil disobedience," Extinction Rebellion America, Cascadia Coalition said its goals include prompting the city to act with urgency and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, as well as establishing citizens' assemblies.
"It's basically like a jury, made up of a statistical representation of the population of the city," explained Extinction Rebellion mass mobilizer Adelaide Beeman-White, saying the assemblies would then hear from experts and marginalized and impacted groups before deciding on an equitable path forward.
"We don't advocate for any specific policies — we just say we want this to get done," Beeman-White said.
A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau said a Central Precinct sergeant talked with protest leaders.
"We are aware of it," said the spokesman, Sgt. Kevin Allen. "For now we are not taking any police action."
The activists said they were not planning to remain indefinitely but would declare victory and remove the blockade at a set time in the future.
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