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Nine arrested in climate protest inside House chamber

Nine climate protesters were arrested Wednesday after occupying the Massachusetts House gallery after the joint session ended for the day.Shutterstock/f11photo

Nine protesters from a Boston climate action group were arrested on trespassing charges Wednesday after occupying the Massachusetts House gallery after the joint session ended for the day.

The protesters, who were part of the local chapter of activist group Extinction Rebellion, occupied the gallery for more than five hours after the Legislature, which was taking part in a constitutional convention, ended its business around 11 a.m.

Six men and three women were arrested, with some singing as State Police escorted them out of the State House when the building closed at 5 p.m.

They will be arraigned at Boston Municipal Court on the charge of trespassing on state property, State Police said in a statement.

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The activists said they are advocating for the Legislature to introduce legislation banning fossil fuel infrastructure and halt proposed projects in several Massachusetts communities: a fossil fuel plant in Peabody, and an Eversource gas line expansion in Western Massachusetts. They also object to the approval of a natural gas facility in Charlton.

“We got our message out,” said Susan Lemont, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion. “The climate crisis is now.”

Arrested were Julia Hanson, 35, of Dorchester; Pamela Dibona, 59, of Arlington; John Burkhardt, 57, of Arlington; Gregory Mangan, 71, of Somerville; Alexander Chambers, 24, of Boylston; Daniel Kamen, 37, of Sudbury; Paul Shorb, 66, of Lincoln; Matthew Lyon, 20, of Lee, N.H.; and Rose Abramoff, 36, of Knoxville, Tenn., the statement said.

The group refused to leave despite numerous requests from police, who gave them a final warning at 5 p.m., the statement said.

“The actions caused a major disruption to the work of the State House employees,” the statement said.

The action is part of the group Scientist Rebellion’s week of action and the corresponding “The Science is Clear” campaign, which demands that governments listen to climate science.

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At one point, court officers stopped protestors from hanging a banner off the gallery. Representatives and senators left the chamber without engaging with the protesters, who threw bits of paper from the balcony.

“We are holding this physical space hostage,” one organizer, Alex Chambers, said on a phone call from inside the gallery. “We think we have sufficiently interrupted their day.”

Another protester, Rose Abramoff, said police lined the gallery, some playing music on their cell phones. She said protesters worked to “keep up the strength and the energy.”

“We are frankly out of time,” said Abramoff, a climate scientist who was arrested last April after chaining herself to a White House fence and subsequently fired from her job. “Massachusetts needs to go so much farther, so much faster.”

Extinction Rebellion has organized other climate protests in recent months.

In March, a protest at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was thwarted after organizers announced their intentions in advance.

In February, 14 protesters were arrested after occupying the lobby of Governor Maura Healey’s office well after the State House closed.

Protesters were also arrested in January while protesting the construction of a controversial electrical substation in East Boston.

Material from State House News Service was used in this report.



Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her @samanthajgross. Claire Law can be reached at claire.law@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @claire_law_.