Approximately 75 crazed environmentalists attempted to take over the Oregon governor’s office at the capitol building Thursday to protest a natural gas pipeline that is in the planning phases. They vowed to occupy the office until governor Kate Brown disavowed the pipeline. 21 of the wackjob protesters were eventually arrested and jailed on criminal trespass charges.
Opponents of plans to build a liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal on the Oregon coast occupied Gov. Kate Brown’s Salem office Thursday, demanding that she announce her opposition to the project.
Brown spoke to the protesters late Thursday evening and told the group she wants to ensure that federal regulators don’t circumvent state agencies’ permitting powers. She did not come down on either side of the pipeline debate.
“I believe that Oregonians are best served by knowing that there is a fair process and that I’m not putting my finger on the scale one way or another,” she told the occupiers. “Because as you know, your community is quite divided on this issue. Your community is extremely divided on this issue.”
Shortly after Brown’s appearance, state police began issuing trespassing notices to the activists, according to the group Southern Oregon Rising Tide, and arresting those who refused to leave. The group said 21 activists were arrested and later released.
The protest began with activists opposing the Jordan Cove project rallying outside the Capitol and then in the rotunda earlier Thursday. Then about 75 of them sat on the floor of the reception area to Brown’s office and vowed to stay.
They want Brown to come out firmly against the proposed 230-mile natural gas pipeline and export terminal, which would bring natural gas from the Rockies and Canada to Coos Bay, where it would be liquefied and loaded onto ships bound for Asia.
OSP said that the protest began around 2 p.m. with a group of roughly 75 people. They continued the sit-in until 5:30 p.m., when the Capitol closes to the public.
“Several of the people remained in the building and refused to leave, requesting to speak to Governor Kate Brown,” OSP said. Governor Brown emerged and answered several of the activists’ questions before leaving, and most of them soon dispersed as well.
However, a few protestors stayed behind. When they refused to leave at OSP’s request, the agency said it arrested the 21 remaining people and booked them into the Marion County Jail on criminal trespass charges.