At around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning (July 29), 13 Greenpeace activists rappelled from the St. John Bridge in Portland, Oregon. Their mission was to block the passage of a Shell oil icebreaker, which is a ship that's used as a critical piece of equipment for drilling. The climbers now hang suspended from hammocks and roped together, blocking the ship from returning to the Arctic. These activists are determined to stop companies from drilling in the region, which poses threats to indigenous people and wildlife.
The icebreaker was damaged and docked near Portland for repairs when the activists found it. They reportedly have enough food to stay there for a week.
Annie Leonard, the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, said in a statement, “Every second we stop Shell counts. The brave climbers here in Portland are now what stand between Shell and Arctic oil. This is President Obama’s last chance to wake up and realize the disaster that could happen on his watch."
Greenpeace has been building campaigns and helping activists organize around issues affecting the environment since the 1970s. They have a long history of organizing direct action campaigns like this one that are intended to help bring attention to these issues.
"The Arctic is one of the most unique places on Earth," the group's website states. "It spans eight countries, is home to more than 13 million people and provides a habitat for some of the most incredible wildlife on Earth ... The only way to protect the Arctic, its wildlife and its people is to set it aside as a protected sanctuary. This means telling companies and governments that the Arctic -- and its oil -- is off limits."
"There is still time for our President to cancel Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic," Leonard continued in the statement. "Living up to the climate leader we know he can be. Shell has ignored the world’s best scientists, as well as millions of people around the world, who have all said repeatedly that the melting Arctic is a dire warning, not an invitation.”
Activists -- including some of the ones actually suspended from the bridge -- are using the hashtags #ShellNo, #PeopleVsShell, and #SaveTheArctic to post updates and join in the conversation.