I’ve bee covering Extinction Rebellion actions in Victoria for a while now. Everything from the theatrical protests against gas drilling in the Otways Basin, to 6-hour occupations of politicians offices, to giant, smouldering zombie koala puppets.
Some of these actions have also included blockading fossil fuel infrastructure, in a number of creative and time consuming (as far as time taken for the police to remove the obstruction) ways. ExxonMobil – known for its greenscamming and funding climate denialist groups despite knowing the science and human impacts on the climate for decades, has particularly been a target. There’s even an upcoming short documentary film on this.
This is where the idea of ‘Just Stop It’ campaign was born. It was also inspired by similar actions taking place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere as part of the ‘Just Stop Oil’ campaign. The idea being, a different local or affinity group would lead an action each over a condensed period of time, falling under the theme of the campaign.
As mentioned above, the ExxonMobil Yarraville fuel terminal has been targeted by Extinction Rebellion a number of times. The last time it was targeted, two people locked themselves on to a concrete filled barrel, blocking the exit gate out of the facility for a few hours.
The first action of the Just Stop It campaign – once again beginning in the early hours of the morning – took this up to the next level – with three people locking on to two concrete filled barrels – successfully disrupting activity at the fuel terminal for nearly four hours.
This wasn’t the end of it for day 1 of the campaign, however. Police had vacated the ExxonMobil terminal by the afternoon, in time for another action to take place.
This one took the form of a papier-mâché construction representing a burning earth, with a rather intricate lock-on device contained within – allowing four people to lock on. What seemed like a rather simple prop took police more than three hours to clear.
Day 2 of the Just Stop It campaign turned its attention to the Ampol fuel terminal in Spotswood. Trucks were used to block the entry and exits to the facility, while several people climbed atop the trucks and locked on, while another person locked on to one of the gates – disrupting activity at the facility several hours.
By the time Day 3 of the Just Stop It campaign rolled around, police were on high alert and were actively patrolling fuel terminal infrastructure in the western suburbs of Melbourne as well as having an almost around-the-clock presence stationed at key sites.
After a plan to target one terminal was foiled by a proactive police presence (it’s suspected that police followed a forward group arriving to the site) – a different plan had to be quickly drawn up.
As a means to draw police resources away from the nearby fuel terminals as well as cause some disruption – one group erected a tripod at a traffic pinch-point between the Ampol, Viva and ExxonMobil fuel terminals, and the plan worked – leaving the ExxonMobil fuel terminal wide open to be targeted again for the third time in a week.
The plan worked – leaving the ExxonMobil fuel terminal wide open to be targeted again for the third time in a week.
The XR Ballarat local group also staged a theatrical action in the form of a funeral march around and past the front of the ExxonMobil fuel terminal.
After skipping a day, the Just Stop It campaign shifted its focus to the Melbourne CBD, where the head offices of ExxonMobil’s Australian operations are located.
Part theatrical, part arrrestable – two people glued their hands to the entrance of the building; while people dressed as clowns (representing ExxonMobil) doused ‘oil’ over another group.
Seemingly catching the police off guard again, the ExxonMobil Yarraville fuel terminal was targeted again in the early hours of Saturday morning – for the fourth time in a week – with several people climbing atop a petrol tanker while others blocked all entrances and exits to and from the fuel terminal.