VTrans takes down climate activists' banners hanging on interstate overpasses

Published: Sep. 23, 2019 at 7:56 AM EDT
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A Vermont group is calling attention to climate actions with a visible campaign.

The Extinction Rebellion group put up large banners on all of the overpasses on Interstates 89 and 91. Group members say they are dedicated to nonviolent climate activism and will put up banners to engage Vermonters in the conversation.

One sign on Hinesburg Road Monday read: "Rebellion Oct. 17 Montpelier."

Organizers say they've been working on the 120 banners for more than a month.

"We want to be seen as witnessing what is happening with our planet. We also want all of our neighbors and the people who are commuting this morning to know that people here in Vermont are paying attention," said Scot Zens, an activist from Thetford.

"The messaging really is that we need to declare a climate emergency and we need to encourage and implore our elected officials to do so and take real action on it," said Mindy Blank with Extinction Rebellion.

Officials with the group acknowledge that hanging a sign on a highway overpass is not allowed but they say civil disobedience is needed in a time of crisis.

But VTrans says not so fast. Officials say they took down about 78 of the banners, calling them a safety hazard for travelers below. They also say the banners violate Vermont's billboard law.

Monday's action is one of several planned events to address the climate crisis. It kicked off Friday with student strikes around the world and across our region.