Cafe pays the price for weekly protest

Every Monday for more than a year, protesters have gathered outside Santos headquarters in Flinders Street – but it’s an independent cafe inside that feels the heat.

Jun 11, 2024, updated Jun 11, 2024
The weekly protestors have been meeting every Monday for over a year. Photo: Xenia Hackett

The weekly protestors have been meeting every Monday for over a year. Photo: Xenia Hackett

At 11am every Monday, Extinction Rebellion protesters gather outside the Santos building, prompting the oil and gas giant to lock its front doors.

Every time it happens, Bluprint Café on the ground floor loses customers.

“We understand protesting, we’re cool with that, but it does affect us,” Blueprint co-owner Christos Adamou told InDaily.

“The other day they came in with a banner screaming in people’s faces, and not last week, but the week before people were having a coffee right there and two ladies were staring at them through the window the whole time.”

When Bluprint cafe opened its doors just over a year ago it was unaware there would be regular protests.

“We understand; free speech is free speech, do what you have to do,” Adamou said.

“But when you’re stopping businesses from being able to just trade, it’s sad. We pay rent, we pay staff, we pay everything.”

Extinction Rebellion SA member Nancy Inkster said the group was not “trying to punish the cafe”.

“The difficulty is that we haven’t just got Santos, we’ve got a cafe next to them – they’re not part of Santos, they’ve just rented the space,” she said.

Bluprint’s owner said the cafe was only accessible through a side door during the protests. When the weekly protest ends, participants head over to a cafe across from the Santos building.

Blueprint is located in the ground floor of the Santos building. Photo: Xenia Hackett / InDaily

Inkster said the weekly protests began as a silent vigil outside the Santos building.

“We stood for an hour, in silence just watching them,” she said.

“They sent one of their guys out in their car to try and block us. We’d shift, then he’d shift. Eventually he just gave up.

“Now as soon as we come, they lock the front.”

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XR is part of a global movement that protests biodiversity loss and the climate crisis.

In May 2023 the group faced arrest and were fined for property damage after throwing paint on the Santos front doors.

Member Meme Thorne was arrested the following day for disrupting traffic while abseiling from the Morphett Street Bridge during an oil and gas conference at the Convention Centre.

The state government then cracked down with new laws introducing significantly higher fines and possible jail time.

Thorne said inconvenient protest was the point.

“In these performances, outside of the fun ones which are really for getting information onto our airwaves and on print, [we try] to evoke, to give people the permission to feel,”  she said.

“Climate grief is enormous and it’s growing, and it’s not going to stop while ‘business as usual’ happens.”

Bluprint Café

Photo: Xenia Hackett / InDaily

“Everybody in XR knows that if they want to just meet up on Monday morning they can,” Inkster said.

“It’s a really nice time, you connect with people.”

In a statement, Santos said it “respect[s] the right of people to protest safely and peacefully”.

“Santos prioritises the safety and security of staff and others within our office building, and protest activity should be respectful of those going about their day,” it said.

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