Police respond to protest at Oregon state Capitol - KPTV - FOX 12

Protesters who rappelled down the Capitol building arrested

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Oregon State Police took a group of protesters into custody after they rappelled down the Oregon state Capitol building in Salem Thursday.

Troopers first responded to the Capitol at 10:15 a.m. Salem firefighters were also called to the scene.

Officials at the state Capitol said the protesters posed as tourists and went in with a group to take a tour of the building around 10 a.m. Thursday.

Because it was a nice day, a legislative administrator said the tour included a trip to the rooftop, just below the gold pioneer statue.

As the tour group enjoyed the view from the top, officials believe some of the protesters distracted the guide and two others made their move.

The two climbers used a harness and human anchors to rappel down the side of the building and hang a giant banner from the top.

The protesters hung a giant banner that condemns the "clear-cutting for profit" of the Elliott State Forest. Jason Gonzales, representing an organization called "Cascadia Forest Defenders," said their goal is to get the attention of the governor and "the people of Oregon."

"It's their land that's being sold," he said.

Gonzalez said the man and woman who scaled the Capitol planned to stay up there all day.

Police had the two people on the building, along with three others, in custody by noon. Their sign was also taken down.

Protecting the state Capitol is now something that's being discussed after Thursday's protest.

Officials canceled all tours for the rest of this week and are now looking at what exactly happened to try and keep it from happening again.

"Obviously we have to work with our visitors service staff who provide the tours and with state police and we're going to re-evaluate how we do what we do to make sure what we're doing provides the safest tours for everybody who comes down here," said Kevin Hayden, a legislative administrator.

Oregon State Police arrested Benjamin Jones, 22 from Eugene; Erin Michele Grady, 26 from Eugene; Robert Oliver, 21, from Coos Bay; Isabel Indigo Brooks, 21 from Northeast Portland; and Peter Bryan Garcia, 35, from Eugene.

All were facing disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, and reckless endangering another person. Garcia was only charged with the first two crimes.

Capitol access on the north side of the building was closed while police worked to resolve the situation. All area roads remained open.

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