[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said 13 activists were detained, but in total, 14 activists were detained before being released.]
The battle continues to try to block Shell Oil from using Seattle as a staging area for its Arctic drilling operation.
14 Greenpeace activists in kayaks were taken into custody by the U.S. Coast Guard as they blockaded Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig from leaving Elliott Bay in Seattle’s Puget Sound; the Coast Guard said they violated a rule requiring protesters stay 500 yards from the rig. The activists, who included Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien, had secured themselves with enough supplies to last for hours while additional protests were taking place on shore. About fifty other activists on the water were not stopped as the Polar Pioneer left the bay and those detained were released by mid-morning.
@CMMikeOBrien joins the flotilla to “save the Arctic” and stop Shell. @elijsanders pic.twitter.com/IP3xjSeXFs
— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) June 15, 2015
“Shell was trying to get the Polar Pioneer out of Seattle under cover of darkness, but the kayaktivists prevented them from leaving for several hours and exposed what they were doing to the world,” said Greenpeace Arctic communications manager Travis Nichols. The “kayaktivists” were on the water at 4 a.m. when they got word that the Polar Pioneer was on the move.
Greenpeace’s activism against Shell’s drilling plans has been ongoing. In April, six protesters intercepted the same oil rig, the Polar Pioneer, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. They climbed onto the rig and occupied it for almost a week. Meanwhile, in Seattle, opposition to Shell’s drilling plans has been growing as people have tried to stop its rigs from departing the city for the Arctic. One protest involved thousands of people, including 500 in kayaks.
Paloma Henriques, one of the “kayaktivists” who was taken into custody, said: “I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone. I believe that confronting Shell will encourage more people to take a strong stand against them and other companies who are seeking to destroy this planet for profit. We are here to send a message to President Obama that it’s not too late to stop Shell from destroying the Arctic.”
“Shell wants to haul its 40,000 ton Arctic destroyer to Alaska as soon as possible, but these courageous individuals are saying, ‘Shell No,'” said Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard. “Every minute that brave protesters can delay Shell’s Arctic drilling plans is another chance for President Obama to reconsider his disastrous approval of oil drilling in Alaska. The President’s decision on Arctic drilling will be a deal-breaker for his climate legacy, but it’s not too late for him to stop this catastrophe before it starts.”