Cr Sri said while the attacks were hurtful and emotionally exhausting for he and his ward staff, the amount of support he had received had been significantly higher.
Multiple comments posted on Facebook advocated violence, some telling Cr Sri to “go back to where you came from”.
“I sometimes feel like there’s a faint undercurrent of racism to a lot of this, where people are particularly annoyed that a person of colour is asking questions about society,” Cr Sri said.
“It really is hurtful and it does make me more cautious about speaking freely.
“Once upon a time I felt really comfortable being really open and direct, but with so much aggressive scrutiny I think over time I’m becoming more guarded over how I pick my words.”
Cr Sri came under scrutiny for allowing Extinction Rebellion to use his ward office, particularly when multiple members of the activist group have been arrested and charged over their traffic-disrupting protests around Brisbane.
On Sky’s The Kenny Report on Wednesday afternoon, host Chris Kenny repeatedly questioned Cr Sri over why he allowed activists who broke the law to use his ratepayer-funded office.
Cr Sri said the role of legitimate and peaceful protest was a key part of democracy, and he would only stop supporting the protesters if they changed from peaceful tactics to violence.
Asked by Brisbane Times if he would continue allowing Extinction Rebellion to use his ward office for meetings, Cr Sri said he would.
“Yeah, I’ll definitely allow them to keep using the office,” he said.
“I’m even thinking about holding a community barbecue on Rebellion Day.”
On Tuesday in the council chamber, Cr Sri moved a motion calling on the council to declare a climate emergency, which was shot down by the LNP administration for being too extreme.
Speaking to Cr Sri’s climate emergency motion in the council chamber late on Tuesday night, LNP councillor Ryan Murphy castigated Cr Sri for allying with “extremists” who blocked traffic throughout the city, some of whom were arrested and charged.
Cr Murphy said while the LNP believed in climate change, the motion was not one that they could support due to its “alarmist” language.
Cr Murphy told Cr Sri he should lobby quietly in the background for meaningful change rather than stage large-scale protests across the city with climate activists who disrupted traffic and frustrated commuters.
Labor councillors and independent Nicole Johnston, who was the initial seconder to Cr Sri’s climate emergency motion, had earlier moved to amend the motion to change its language.
The amended motion would have urged the council to roll out a climate change information program, but not declared a climate emergency, which Cr Sri said “watered down” its urgency.
Both the original and the amended motion were defeated, a result that Cr Sri told the chamber left him “sad” and disappointed that Brisbane would not be joining other major Australian cities in declaring an emergency.
On Wednesday morning Extinction Rebellion staged a protest of about 30 activists outside News Corp’s office in Bowen Hills, shouting slogans including “Tell the truth” as employees walked inside.
Lucy is the urban affairs reporter for the Brisbane Times, with a special interest in Brisbane City Council.