Activist wall win

EAST FREMANTLE resident Anneke de Rooij has won a fight with her local council over a controversial Extinction Rebellion mural.

Council planning officers wanted the “Extinction Rebellion” text removed from the mural on the boundary wall of her unit, stating it was third party advertising and inappropriate in a residential street, but at Tuesday’s planning meeting, mayor Jim O’Neill stepped in and sided with the young activist.

He successfully moved an amendment to keep the text on the mural, which is on the corner of Canning Highway and Alexandra Road.

Ms de Rooij says she was “pretty surprised” that councillors voted 4-2 in her favour.

“It’s quite amazing that East Fremantle council will do whatever it takes to help tackle climate change,” she says.

“One councillor at the meeting said the mural reminded him of all the animals that had died in the bushfires earlier this year.”

Of 15 responses during the consultation period, 10 neighbours wanted the mural gone and five supported it.

• The controversial mural in front of Anneke de Rooij’s (inset) home in East Fremantle was vandalised a few months ago.

Some opponents were concerned it was overtly political, while others said the lurid pink was out of character with East Fremantle’s leafy, heritage streets.

The boundary wall of Ms de Rooij’s unit was initially painted pink in October to promote an ER protest. The council threatened legal action if it wasn’t removed and she was forced to submit a retrospective planning application.

Ms de Rooij says she sympathises with neighbours who don’t like it, but she has to think of the bigger picture.

“I thought it would be painted over immediately after the protest, but it’s become such a touchstone for the community – it symbolises the fight for free speech and the battle to get more action on climate change.

“I had to go to a speciality shop to get the correct ER shade of pink, as Bunnings couldn’t do it.”

Prior to joining Extinction Rebellion midway through last year, Ms de Rooij says she wasn’t a political activist, aside from signing the odd petition.

“ER felt different; it was prepared to tackle climate change at all levels and from all angles.”

The 33-year-old piano teacher, who works from home, says the six-month battle has taken its toll and she’s considering installing security cameras after some mild intimidation, including people throwing buckets of old urine and paint on the mural. 

“The taggers seem to leave the wall alone, so they must support ER, but other people have occasionally vandalised it.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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