U.S. Coast Guard: Police Will Remove Protesters Hanging from St. Johns Bridge

The U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating with state officials and Portland police to remove Greenpeace protesters dangling from the St. Johns Bridge to block a Shell Offshore icebreaker, WW has confirmed.

"We are working with local agencies to manage a safe and effective solution," says Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer First Class George Degener. "The agencies went down to the individuals and informed them that they were breaking the law."

IMAGE: Cristina Serrano Mathews

The Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton says Oregon Gov. Kate Brown gave permission this afternoon for the Coast Guard to shut down the bridge. (ODOT has authority over the St. Johns Bridge.)

"I'm not aware of what's going to happen in this process next," Hamilton says, "and I doubt that I would tell you if I did know. Let me tell you this: This is a very fluid situation."

Multiple news reports show Portland Police Bureau riot police gathering at the top of Cathedral Park. A Coast Guard officer told WW reporters on the scene that law enforcement officials were preparing to extract the dangling protestors.

IMAGE: Clare Carpenter

The actions by law enforcement follow a failed attempt by the Shell icebreaker Fennica to leave its dry dock this morning, and a ruling by a federal judge that Greenpeace must pay Shell $2,500 for each hour protesters block the ship's departure.

UPDATE, 3:22 pm: Protest organizers confirm that Portland police officers have begun removing activists dangling from ropes. "Support needed ASAP," they wrote in a mass text. "Climbers are being extracted."

Protesters are steaming live video of the removal. Watch it here:

UPDATE, 5:04 pm: Portland firefighters have lowered at least two of the the 13 dangling protesters to U.S. Coast Guard boats in the Willamette River below.

But protest organizers announced via text that another activist has chained himself to the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge 5.1, about a mile upstream from the St. Johns Bridge.

A photo sent to The Portland Mercury shows that activist is Jonah Majure, the chief petitioner on a failed ballot measure to create a People's Water Trust that would fight for open-air drinking-water reservoirs. Majure appears to have tied himself to the railroad bridge with a bicycle lock around his neck.

More as this story develops.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW’s journalism through our Give!Guide Fundraising page.