Protesters come down from St. Johns Bridge; Shell ship passes th - KPTV - FOX 12

Protesters come down from St. Johns Bridge; Shell ship passes through

Posted: Updated: Jul 30, 2015 09:08 PM

After two days dangling from the St. Johns Bridge, Greenpeace protesters came down to waiting sheriff's office boats and the Shell Oil Co. ship they were attempting to block passed through on its way to the Arctic.  

The Oregon Department of Transportation shut down the bridge shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard was then joined by firefighters and law enforcement in a "complex operation" to create a clear passage for the MSV Fennica.

By 4:30 p.m., the protesters began coming down from the bridge. Greenpeace hailed the demonstration a success.

"It's been wildly successful and now millions more people know about this project," a Greenpeace spokeswoman told FOX 12.

The whole situation began unfolding at around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The protesters, joined by 13 others who were serving as anchors on the deck of the bridge, suspended themselves over the Willamette River. Protesters said they were prepared to stay on the bridge for days.

Greenpeace said the Shell icebreaking ship needed to be at the drilling site before Shell could reapply for federal approval to drill, so they planned to do their best to prevent that from happening.

The ship did not attempt to leave Wednesday. However, it left dock at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and headed downriver toward the protesters, but ended up turning around and returning upriver.

By around 5 p.m. Thursday, the Fennica launched again. While enough protesters had been cleared from the St. Johns Bridge for it to pass, kayakers, dubbed kayaktivists, filled the waterways to again block the ship.

More than an hour earlier, the Coast Guard announced that the river was closed to all traffic from Kelly Point to Swan Island. Kayakers were warned if they did not go back to the beach, they could be arrested.

Their attempts did slow the ship's passage temporarily, but it still cleared the St. Johns Bridge by 6 p.m.

Earlier Thursday, a U.S. district court judge in Alaska ruled that Greenpeace would be fined $2,500 per hour – to be paid to Shell – that the protesters remained on the bridge, with the fines increasing by the day.

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