Yesterday, Lincoln Neal wrote about last week’s arctic drilling protest on Portland’s Willamette River. This morning we hear another account of the demonstration…. this time from one of the kayakactivists, Equal Exchange’s Meghan Huebner.
I was offered a seat in a kayak and given a large Alaskan flag to hold. I happily jumped in, eager to see the action on the water. Soon after, I saw Jim and Casey in a canoe that they had found on the beach. They were paddling with the top of a Tupperware container and a two by four but ended up acquiring a couple of paddles abandoned by other activists who had been arrested.
We were paddling around passing out Equal Exchange goodies and listening to the strategies of the protestors. The main plan once the ship was close enough, was to swarm towards the center of the river and create a dense wall, making it difficult for the ship to pass and more challenging for authorities to reach everyone.
After only 20 minutes on the water, we could see the Fennica moving steadily closer.
As the ship neared the bridge, kayakers were doing all they could to dodge the police and Coast Guard and form a barrier. Kayakers and boaters charged towards the front of the ship and within minutes, many aggressive protesters were pulled from their vessels and detained, leaving stranded kayaks all throughout the river. The authorities ended up making their own defensive wall between the Fennica and the kayakers.
By this point. fewer Green Peace protestors were still suspended from the bridge leaving just enough room on the west side for the Fennica to pass beneath and continue its journey to Alaska.
What an amazing scene, especially feeling the energy that surrounded the protesters. The highlight for me was being able to make it to the supply bag for one of the climbers who was suspended below the bridge and drop in some Equal Exchange snacks! Although the ship passed through, I hope that everyone who was part of this protest feels a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride that they were able to stand up for their beliefs and also inspire countless others along the way.