7 protesters who climbed DC crane make court appearance

WASHINGTON — Seven activists from the environmental group Greenpeace appeared before a judge in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday night, after they had climbed a 270-foot crane in downtown D.C. Wednesday in an act of protest.

With their hands and feet in shackles, four women and three men were told by a judge that they would only be released if they agreed to stay away from the scene of their dissent.

D.C. police say they were called to L and 15th streets northwest early Wednesday morning after reports of a man climbing a construction crane.

Five of the activists, according to court documents, climbed to the top of the crane while two others climbed to the middle. All seven chained themselves to the crane and those at the top hung a banner that read “Resist.” The seven remained on the crane until late Wednesday night.

Outside the courthouse, a handful of supporters cheered as the seven emerged. Climber Pearl Robinson, 26, of Oakland, California, said, “We shouldn’t be focused on us climbing,” and urged reporters to focus on the messages they are trying to convey by completing the stunt.

The activists say the protest centered on President Donald Trump’s signing of executive orders to restart the Dakota pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline projects.

Greenpeace activists after their court appearance Thursday. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Greenpeace activists after their court appearance Thursday. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

“These are two instances in which thousands and millions of people came together and stood up to protect not only their land rights, but water and the environment. And with one swipe of the pen, he undid all of that progress,” said Robinson.

Others arrested include:

  • Karen Topakian, 62, of San Francisco, California;
  • Zakaria Kronemer, 23, of Silver Spring, Maryland;
  • Zeph Fishlyn, 50, of Oakland, California;
  • Nancy Hernandez, 36, of San Francisco, California;
  • Joshua Ingram, 35, of Santa Cruz, California;
  • Zachary Riddle, 34, of Bethesda, Maryland.

Court records state the seven were equipped with climbing gear, tools, food supplies and urine pans. While on the crane, the activists used social media to communicate with followers about their protest.

According to police, the Clark Construction Company had to send 150 workers home without pay because of the protest at the construction site.

“This moment in history was worth any sort of risk and any sort of inconvenience,” said Cassady Craighill, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace.

Court records also allege the work stoppage cost the company about $500,000 and led to road closures, which impacted traffic in the area.

In addition to unlawful entry and unlawful demonstrating, the activists are also charged with destroying property after police allege locks were cut and fencing removed. Travis Nichols with Greenpeace told WTOP that the seven did not cut locks or fencing to gain access to the site, but couldn’t elaborate how the activists made it onto the site.

The seven will be back in court on March 1. The activists face more than a year in jail and could be fined up to $2,500.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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