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Climate activist who blocked Sydney Harbor Tunnel in peak hour says she ‘has no regrets’

A climate activist who reportedly chained herself to the wheel of a rental car and blocked one of Sydney’s main roads during rush hour says she has “no regrets” following her release from prison.

Mali Cooper, 22, was one of 10 people charged Monday night after dozens of Blockade Australia protesters took to the streets in the morning to cause chaos for commuters in Sydney’s CBD.

She filmed herself behind the wheel of a car blocking the entrance to the Sydney Harbor Tunnel, creating a stalemate that saw an irate commuter screaming her insults.

When she appeared on The Project Tuesday evening after spending a night behind bars, she said she was delighted to have the opportunity to talk about climate issues.

Activist Mali Cooper (pictured) defended the alleged traffic block in Sydney, believing it will get people talking about climate change and not Blockade Australia's protesters, but also acknowledged that protesters acted privilegedly

Activist Mali Cooper (pictured) defended the alleged traffic block in Sydney, believing it will get people talking about climate change and not Blockade Australia’s protesters, but also acknowledged that protesters acted privilegedly

Mrs Cooper's white hatchback is said to have blocked access to the Sydney Harbor Tunnel on Monday morning (pictured)

Mrs Cooper’s white hatchback is said to have blocked access to the Sydney Harbor Tunnel on Monday morning (pictured)

“I’m glad I got away and had the chance to see my family and be here to have this conversation,” said Ms. Cooper.

She explained that her ‘fear’ about the way the planet is being treated has led her to reportedly stranding thousands of Sydneysiders in their cars while trying to go about their day.

“There are people who are determined to extract huge amounts of resources from this planet,” she said.

‘It is typically disadvantaged people who are experiencing the impact of climate change and climate devastation that is happening right now.’

Project presenter Kate Langbroek wondered if Blockade Australia’s actions were the best way to get support for action on climate change.

‘What do you think your disruption has to do with climate change? People think you are extremely divisive’, says Langbroek.

“You’re talking about privileges, but the ultimate privilege was probably you deciding whether people could work or not?”

The white hatchback that Ms Cooper was allegedly driving was sideways parked across two lanes of traffic - causing chaos for the thousands of people who use the tunnel every hour (pictured)

The white hatchback that Ms Cooper was allegedly driving was sideways parked across two lanes of traffic – causing chaos for the thousands of people who use the tunnel every hour (pictured)

Ms Cooper said she believed her actions sparked a conversation about climate issues.

“There needs to be a bigger conversation about climate change and I don’t think many people get a chance to speak on national television about this really important situation that affects us all.”

“I recognize my privilege in the world and I recognize that I have the privilege of talking to you.”

“It’s so important that I’m here and have this conversation and we’re opening up a discussion about how we move forward and how we take steps to support our life systems, support each other and make sure we take climate action.”

Mrs. Cooper has chained herself to the handlebars with a bicycle lock

An irate commuter broke out at a climate activist after she chained herself to the wheel of her car and blocked traffic outside the Sydney Harbor Tunnel

Mrs. Cooper chained herself to the handlebars with a bicycle lock (left) causing a mile-long stoppage with an irate commuter hurling disgusting insults at her (right)

The woman was eventually arrested by several officers and the tunnel reopened around 9:00 a.m

The woman was eventually arrested by several officers and the tunnel reopened around 9:00 a.m

Ms Cooper was released after being detained by police Monday night but still faces a fine of up to $22,000 thanks to new laws introduced to stem disruptive and dangerous protests.

Mali is accused of parking a white hatchback across the road leading to the busy tunnel, causing drivers to lean for miles on their way to work.

She was confronted by an irate driver while filming a live stream of her protest and was later cut from the car by officers from the Police Rescue Squad.

Six women and four men between the ages of 21 and 49 from three states were arrested and charged with a range of offenses related to intentionally preventing the free passage of a person or vehicle.

Police have set up a Strike Force Guard and pledged: remain highly visible in the CBD for the rest of the week after Blockade Australia warned of further disruptions.

“It is unacceptable that a small number of people – who have little to no respect for ordinary people who live their lives – cause unnecessary disruption to their commute,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Paul Dunstan said.

“What these individuals are doing is both illegal and unsafe. They are endangering the lives of themselves, the general public and our officers by running in the lane and blocking roads in other ways to disrupt traffic.”

Dozens of specialized officers were deployed to assist with the operation, including the Public Order and Riot Squad, Mounted Police, Rescue Squad, Dog Squad, Traffic and Highway Patrol and Transit Police.

Dozens descended on central Sydney, holding placards and chants as they demanded action on climate change

Dozens descended on central Sydney, holding placards and chants as they demanded action on climate change

Both sides of the NSW government condemned the protesters’ actions.

“I would like to say to the protesters: get a real job,” said Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole.

“Go talk to someone today who was actually late getting to work.”

Labor opposition leader Chris Minns added: ‘Maybe we’ve had women waiting to go to emergency rooms, birth centers to give birth or [other] Emergencies,’

Blockade Australia warned on its Facebook page Monday evening that the resistance will continue, Tuesday and every day this week.

Mali began live-streaming the protest when an angry driver walked up to her window and began verbally berating her with a series of swear words before storming off.

“You’re ruining everyone’s day,” he shouts. “Get out of the damn way!”

An unfazed Mali continues to look at the camera before responding, “To this man I’d say I’m behind you. It’s for you, it’s for your family that we do this.’

She staged the protest as dozens of Blockade Australia protesters marched through the streets in the CBD, disrupting traffic and clashing with police.

A police officer picks up milk crates left in the street as protesters were seen throwing bins and objects in the police's path to slow them down

A police officer picks up milk crates left in the street as protesters were seen throwing bins and objects in the police’s path to slow them down

A fed up driver was filmed pushing his car through the crowd forcing people to jump sideways as a protester slammed the hood as they were pushed backwards.

Mali, who complained about climate destruction in her livestream, then sipped water from a plastic water bottle as she continued her protest on the other side of town.

“The police are here,” she said into the camera. “I’m not sure you can see it. Thanks everyone who listened.

“I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to hold this phone and this space. It’s a big day ahead of us.’

The tunnel is one of the main arteries bringing commuters through the city’s harbor and is used by up to 2,000 cars per hour.

All traffic had been diverted via the Harbor Bridge and the drivers had to reverse for miles.

A man picked up a barricade and ran as protests choked traffic in the CBD on Monday

A man picked up a barricade and ran as protests choked traffic in the CBD on Monday

Extraordinary footage captured in Sydney’s CBD shows the moment members of the extremist Blockade Australia group were nearly hit by an SUV while standing in the middle of an intersection near Wynyard Park.

An irate driver drove right through the demonstration, as protesters tried unsuccessfully to stop the vehicle and chase it down the road – nearly being run over.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Dunstan denounced the protester’s actions, saying Mali was “endangering itself, endangering members of the public and endangering rescue workers.”

“The behavior of this group is nothing less than criminal activity,” the officer continued.

“Throwing bicycles, throwing trash cans, throwing other stuff in the path of the police, in the path of the media, in the path of innocent members of the public who just walk by is not tolerated and cannot be passed on.” the people of NSW.’

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