« Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Ministry of Ecological Transition in Paris on Monday to rally against the A69 motorway project between Toulouse and Castres.
Footage shows at least 200 demonstrators with banners and signs outside the ministry where prolific activist and professional arborist Thomas Brail had been forcibly dislodged from a tree by authorities after spending 10 days in its branches on hunger strike.
“Thomas and the others have realised that we can no longer ask nicely, it’s no longer possible, we don’t have the time,” a demonstrator said through a megaphone.
“Thomas and the 10 people who are still on hunger strike and the other climbers from the GNSA (Groupe National de Surveillance des Arbres), who are still perched in the trees today, are using their bodies to enter into resistance and to try to hinder this deadly machine that is leading us into chaos,” he continued.
The rally, which was attended by Brail himself, as well as several elected representatives comes as French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his 50-point ‘ecological plan’ to cut greenhouse emissions by 55 per cent and end France’s use of fossil fuels by 2030.
“You have to stop staying in your comfort zone. We can all do something in our own way. I’m proof of that. The squirrels (nickname for climbers) are proof of that,” Brail said amid a crowd of demonstrators.
“I stopped working three weeks ago and I don’t see my little boy any more. He was crying just now because he didn’t know what Daddy was doing. I think that if we all get involved and stop thinking that other people are going to do things, we’ll get there,” he continued.
Activists claim the A69 motorway project will have a negative impact on the environment due to the felling of countless trees and the loss of agricultural land needed to complete its construction.
Brail was removed from the tree outside the Ministry of Ecological Transition on Sunday as he prepared to go on a ‘thirst strike’, which authorities claim would have put his life in danger. He was reportedly taken to the Cochin hospital in the French capital and released later in the day. »