UPDATE: 8:24 p.m. – Police disbanded the protest late this afternoon, and the Fennica set sail for Alaska.
“Shell No” is the theme of a protest happening right now as Shell’s Fennica icebreaker tries to head north after undergoing repairs in Oregon.
At about 6:30 this morning Shell’s icebreaker tried to leave drydock on the Willamette River. It turned back at the St. John’s Bridge, where hanging protesters and kayakers are trying to block its exit. Mereditch Cocks is a local organizer with a conservation group called Portland Rising Tide.
“Kayaks are attempting to blockade the Willamette River. I think there are probably 80 or 90 people out on the river in boats. And of course there are still 13 climbers that are hanging from the St. John’s Bridge, and they have been up there for 36 hours blockading Fennica. Let me hold my phone out for you — people are chanting and arrests are being attempted, but I don’t believe any have been made yet on the water.”
Cocks has been hanging around the bridge since Tuesday. She says when they got wind early this morning that the Fennica was going to leave drydock, they tried to get as many people on the water as possible.
“The Fennica approached the climbers. There were probably a few dozen boats on the water…. and at that point it actually retreated back to dock,” she says.
At about 3:00 this afternoon Cocks says law enforcement was amping up its presence, which makes her think the Fennica may make a second attempt to head north in the coming hours.
“It just started to get pretty serious in the past hour or so when we really saw the first meaningful efforts to extract the climbers off the bridge.”
Cocks says the morale among protesters is strong. And many have pledged to get back on scene as soon as possible if they’re arrested.