Shell’s MVS Fennica made a dramatic u-turn in Portland, Oregon on Thursday after its attempt to reach the open ocean was prevented by Greenpeace activists who lowered themselves from the St. Johns Bridge to block its passage.
Kristina Flores, one of the activists on the bridge, tweeted, “Feeling victorious! The Fennica turned around and headed back to the port. Another successful day of blockading! #shellno arctic drilling!!”
According to Greenpeace USA, the 13 climbers remain suspended below the St. John’s Bridge, along with thirteen more activists on the bridge providing support, and are prepared to hold the line as long as possible.
“The activists went to sleep last night prepared for this moment, and they were in incredible spirits hearing the support from local Portlanders below and from people around the world,” said Cassady Sharp, Greenpeace USA media officer in Portland. “The one person they really hope is listening is President Obama. There has never been a better time for our President to do the right thing and cancel Shell’s lease to drill in the Arctic.”
And some of the other immediate reaction on Twitter included:
: Shell’s Fennica is on the move and the Greenpeace activists are being told by police and Coast Guard officials that they are violating local laws and a federal injunction by impeding the vessel’s attempt to leave port
Local news outlets are covering the dramatic events from helicopters flying over the scene, including a live video stream provided by local KATU TV which showed the Fennica entering the water and heading towards the dangling line of protesters on the bridge. Watch it live.
One of the Greenpeace activists on the bridge is offering live updates via her account on Periscope, a mobile streaming service.
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More than twenty-four hours after 13 climate justice activists with Greenpeace USA first went over the rails of the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon in order to prevent Shell’s effort to begin an offshore drilling operation in the Alaskan Arctic, the blockade continued on Thursday as the support for the group spread around the globe.
So far, the target of the direct action, Shell Oil’s icebreaker the MSV Fennica, has been prevented from leaving port, but there were indications just as this story went to print that the vessel had left a dry dock where it had remained throughout Wednesday.
The climbers, according to Greenpeace, have enough supplies to last several days and are prepared to stay in Shell’s way as long as possible.
With each climber receiving support from another Greenpeace member on the bridge, the total number of activists directly involved amounts to 26 people. As dawn broke, local residents and other activists opposed to Arctic drilling were again on the ground, or in the river below on boats and in kayaks, making a coordinated effort to sustain the blockade.
As Meredith Cocks, an organizer with the local climate action group Portland Rising Tide, told Common Dreams on Wednesday, “The longer we can keep Fennica docked, the longer we can delay exploratory drilling in the Arctic.”
According to The Oregonian, local law enforcement officials—despite threats to make arrests on Wednesday—have yet to devise a way to remove the protesters from the bridge.
Greenpeace continued to offer live updates on its blog and the social media hashtag #ShellNo is being used by supporters of the effort across the world.
Late on Wednesday, Greenpeace released a series of videos which offered testimony from some of the climbers as they explained both their personal motivations and why the collective effort to prevent Shell’s efforts to drill in the Arctic is of such monumental importance:
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