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Greenpeace members face federal, state charges in Houston protest

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Greenpeace members face federal, state charges in Houston protest

By Erwin Seba

 

2019-09-14T011850Z_3_LYNXNPEF8C252_RTROPTP_4_HOUSTONSHIPCHANNEL-CLOSURE-COASTGUARD.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Greenpeace USA climbers form a blockade on the Fred Hartman Bridge, shutting down the Houston Ship Channel, the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the United States, ahead of the third Democratic primary debate in nearby Houston, near Baytown, Texas, U.S. September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

 

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Federal and state authorities on Friday criminally charged climate change protesters for shutting down the largest U.S. energy-export port for a day by dangling from a bridge.

 

The protest organized by Greenpeace closed part of the Houston Ship Channel on Thursday. The Harris County District Attorney's office said its charges were the first under a new law that makes it a felony to disrupt energy pipelines and ports.

 

"This action cost our community many, many millions of dollars in lost commerce," said Sean Teare, a Harris County prosecutor, citing day-long shipping disruptions.

 

Those charged include 31 people who dangled on ropes off a bridge or who provided logistical support, said Teare. Most of the protesters were expected to appear Friday before a magistrate for a probable cause hearing, he said.

 

All 31 face up to a $10,000 fine and two years in prison if convicted. The district attorney's office plans to convene a grand jury to consider other criminal charges, he said.

 

Federal prosecutors separately charged 22 members of the same group with misdemeanor obstruction of navigable waters, according to a filing on Friday. They could face up to a year in prison on the federal charges.

 

"This is a bullying tactic that serves the interests of corporations at the expense of people exercising their right to free speech," said Tom Wetterer, Greenpeace's general counsel.

 

Texas was one of seven states this year that passed laws seeking to curb protests over energy projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and Bayou Bridge pipeline.

 

"Critical infrastructure laws like Texas' were created by oil and gas lobbyists and secretive groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council to restrict First Amendment rights and to try to bring to bear extraordinary consequences for legitimate protests," said Wetterer.

 

Greenpeace could face a $500,000 fine under the Texas law for supporting the protests, said Jennifer Hensley, director of state lobbying and advocacy for environmental group Sierra Club, which is contesting some of the laws.

 

In Louisiana, pipeline opponents this year challenged a similar law in federal court, arguing it is overly broad and designed to chill constitutionally protected protest activities. That case continues in court.

 

The Houston Ship Channel on Friday reopened for vessel traffic after the last of 11 protesters was removed by police.

 

Teare said the protesters hung low enough by rope from the bridge to prevent ships from passing. Others charged were in rubber boats on the water as spotters or on the bridge providing assistance.

 

Protesters sought to bring attention to climate change during Thursday's debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls in Houston.

 

The Houston Ship Channel stretches 53 miles (85 km) from its entrance in the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Houston. The area affected is home to five major oil refineries as well as chemical and oil-export terminals.

 

Day-long shutdowns caused by fog are typically cleared within a day, a Coast Guard official said on Thursday.

 

(Reporting by Erwin Seba in HoustonWriting by Gary McWilliamsEditing by Matthew Lewis, Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-09-14

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A post containing off topic trolling comments has been removed as well as a reply.  The topic is not about Antifa, that would be another topic altogether. 

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2 hours ago, rooster59 said:

Those charged include 31 people who dangled on ropes off a bridge or who provided logistical support, said Teare.

Kudos

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2 hours ago, Tug said:

All the protesting is well and good but there must be a viable alternative otherwise it’s a mute point no energy = death to millions of people that’s reality let’s move towards viable alternatives 

Perhaps that is the point? Without  viable alternatives  does not  necessarily involve wide spread  death  but  certainly accommodation to  a degree of retro living  condition. So is the protest about a less protective  environment in favour of the  oil industry who are determined  to  glean maximum profits to the  end or is it about a proper  focus on  development of alternatives  the same industry  has  coveted in  denial of  environmental damage that already  kills  millions?

The  general public is unlikely to be informed accurately while  corporates continue to  control the financial  base of  governments.

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Perhaps that is the point? Without  viable alternatives  does not  necessarily involve wide spread  death  but  certainly accommodation to  a degree of retro living  condition. So is the protest about a less protective  environment in favour of the  oil industry who are determined  to  glean maximum profits to the  end or is it about a proper  focus on  development of alternatives  the same industry  has  coveted in  denial of  environmental damage that already  kills  millions?
The  general public is unlikely to be informed accurately while  corporates continue to  control the financial  base of  governments.


Does not reducing corporate income taxes reduce the “control” corporations have on the financial base of governments?

Nothing compelling anyone to buy oil. Just say no.
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If dangling from a bridge shutdown the port, there are more serious issues than a simple protest.

 

Shutting down the port? No problem.

 

Hand out flyers in front of an abortion clinic? Call the National Guard!

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2 minutes ago, RideJocky said:

 


Does not reducing corporate income taxes reduce the “control” corporations have on the financial base of governments?

Nothing compelling anyone to buy oil. Just say no.

 

Reducing  taxes surely  indicates the  control ?

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14 hours ago, spidermike007 said:

Lovely work. Anytime people have the audacity and boldness to stand up to corporate greed, malfeasance, and absolute power, it is a wonderful thing to witness. So what if those dreadful companies lost a few million. Means nothing to them. They are the same ones responsible for the fouling of the Gulf, to an unprecedented degree, with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Have they even begun to address the lack of emergency equipment needed to tackle that kind of event, should it happen again? No. They have not. Why? They do not want to invest the money in safety, and they care not one iota for the environment.

 

And the feds will not stand up to them. Why? In the US the corporations do not influence the government. They own and control the government. 

Disagree. You are assuming that all protest action is against greedy corporates. There are plenty of corporates with high values as well as small time operators and the general public that these clowns with their various agendas create cost to and in the case of small time operators and the public there are no big profits to safeguard against their unlawfull practices.

And as for the comments further down that protest is the right of a democracy that is correct. But in the protests I have undertaken both individually and in groups the rules of what is permitted are spell out and that does not include infringing on others rights. The classic example right now is Hong Kong. There was plenty of world wide support for the millions who turned out in peaceful protest. It became less as these clowns then created mayhem in the airport with the general concensus from those going through the airport that they could go .... themselves. So then where is the borderline to the petrol bombing etc?

If protestors cannot stay within the bounds of not impeding others with their actions then they should pay for the cost of their disruptions either / and with the correct end of a cop's batten and the courts. 

 

Edited by Roadman
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