BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Two activists spent about six hours Friday suspended from the anchor chain of a Royal Dutch Shell support ship docked north of Seattle to protest the petroleum giant’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
The protesters sitting in cloth slings attached themselves around 3:30 a.m. to the anchor chain of the American Trader at the Bellingham harbour. A spokeswoman for the group said they were comfortable, in good spirits and excited to be there.
The Coast Guard reported they helped Bellingham Police remove the protesters around 9:30 a.m. Friday, and then the police arrested them for trespassing.
They were cited for trespassing, a gross misdemeanour and released, police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht said.
The activists were on private property, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener said.
Vander Yacht described the police interaction with the protesters as peaceful.
“We talked to them. Told them what they were under arrest for and explained the circumstances. They voluntarily detached themselves from the anchor and let us get them on to a boat so we could get them off the water,” he said.
This is the second Arctic drilling protest in the Bellingham harbour in about a month. The oil company’s proposal also has drawn large protests in Seattle, where a drill rig is being prepared to explore for oil off Alaska this summer.
Sawyer Joy and Erika Osland, both students at Western Washington University, said they were trying to raise awareness about the hazards of Arctic drilling and climate change.
“People need to step up and put a stop to this madness,” Osland said in a statement. “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
Two other protesters attached themselves to a different Shell support ship late last month for the better part of a weekend. They voluntarily left their perch with the help of the Coast Guard after days aboard.
The agency has initiated penalties against some protesters over violating the 100-yard safety zone around the Arctic Challenger.
The Coast Guard became aware of Friday’s situation just before 5 a.m., Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross said.
This story has been corrected to show the protesters were removed around 9:30 a.m. A previous version said they were removed around 10:30 a.m.