Anti-Trump Greenpeace crane protesters hit with charges of burglary, destruction of property
“Due to the extreme danger of the situation, the Metropolitan Police Department monitored the situation until the protesters descended from the crane at 10:04pm,” the MPD said in a statement on Wednesday, according to ABC. “At that time, seven individuals were detained and taken into custody. These individuals are charged with Second Degree Burglary, Unlawful Entry and Destruction of Property.”
Greenpace told RT the protesters will be arraigned Thursday afternoon and information on what sentences they might face if convicted will be known then.
Equipped with climbing gear and safety harnesses, the seven environmental activists scaled a 270ft construction crane on a site just blocks away from the White House on Wednesday. They unfurled a 35ft by 75ft banner from the crane that read “Resist,” in protest against President Donald Trump.
The banner was clearly visible from the grounds of the White House for several hours, while police response to the stunt snarled traffic and halted construction at the site.
The protesters prevented workers from entering the site of the old Washington Post building and occupied the crane for 14 hours before descending.
Police said the activists “illegally obtained access to a construction site by breaking the locks.”
Lee DeLong, a senior vice president for Clark Construction, the lead contractor on the site, told the Washington Post that workers discovered the protesters and called police. He said that getting into the crane and up onto the arm requires knowledge of how a crane works.
‘‘These aren’t amateurs,’’ DeLong said.
The protest had brought much of the day’s work to a halt, DeLong added. He did not say how much money the company would lose as a result, but said, ‘‘It is a significant impact.’’
Protesters told police they were exercising their First Amendment rights by expressing their grievances over the new environmental policies under the Trump administration, and the recent decision to grant the go-ahead for the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.
"MPD respects everyone’s right to protest, however, today’s actions are extremely dangerous and unlawful," police said. "Multiple government resources were tied up, and streets were blocked while first responders attempted to safely address this matter."
Greenpeace said in a statement that the banner was meant to be seen from the White House, “calling for those who want to resist Trump’s attacks on environmental, social, economic, and educational justice to contribute to a better America.”
“Remember that non-violent direct action and protest are American traditions,” Greenpeace spokesperson Jason Schwartz told WTOP. “There tends to be a weird, knee-jerk reaction to things like this that wants to label it as violent or something that’s not peaceful – just remember that this is our First Amendment at work.”
The protests came a day after the Trump administration moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules and froze new Environmental Protection Agency contracts and grant awards.