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Shirtless Cab Drivers Stormed an Edmonton City Council Meeting to Protest Uber

The cabbies began to take their clothing off while shouting that council was "taking the shirts off their backs." Then they asked for pizza.

by Jake Kivanc
Sep 23 2015, 9:00pm

Screenshot of Edmonton protest via Twitter user Laura Osman

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Disgruntled cab drivers upset with Edmonton's politicians over lack of action on Uber stormed city council chambers last night to tear their shirts off and demand pizza.

The cab drivers, who came to protest the proposal of a new bylaw to make Uber legal in Edmonton, began to take their clothing off while shouting that council was "taking the shirts off their backs," according to CBC News.

Laura Osman, a CBC journalist on the scene, tweeted out video and photos the interaction that disrupted the beginning of the meeting.

In the footage, a crowd of cabbies can be seen and heard yelling "shame Uber!" in response to the city's consideration of the mobile company's legal status.

As things began to escalate, Edmonton Journal reporter Mariam Ibrahim added that, in addition to their demands to shut down Uber, the cabbies requested pizza from council staff.

"#yegcc is one keg from away from being a frat house," she wrote on Twitter.

In an attempt to control the situation, temporary city manager Linda Cochran asked the cabbies to settle down and have a civil discussion about the matter.

City staff also handed out cups of water to the taxi drivers, which, in combination with the arrival of Edmonton police, seemed to have a noticeable effect as the meeting began to quiet down.

Uber representatives at the meeting apparently sat in silence during the whole affair.

Despite the loud protests, city council ended up passing the bylaw that would allow for Uber to obtain an uncapped number of taxi licenses (with an amendment to include regular cab companies).

Protests like yesterday's aren't uncommon either: over the last few years, tensions between municipal politicians and cab drivers have grown as Uber has become the go-to taxi service of just about everybody everywhere.

In Toronto, cabbies have shut down city hall on multiple occasions by blocking major streets with taxi cars during peak travel hours (i.e. the morning—when people have the least tolerance for bullshit).

Eccentric councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who once ripped his own shirt off at city hall, has been adamant about his support of pro-cab protests.

Earlier this week, he called for demonstrations similar to the ones in Edmonton to happen when Toronto has its latest hearings on Uber.

Just today, he expressed his sincere distaste for the app-based service at a press conference outside of his office by using a tube of lube with the word "Luber" written on it to make a point.

"They've got to stop screwing people in Toronto," he said.

Follow Jake Kivanc on Twitter.

Jake Kivanc
Giorgio Mammoliti