Ohio judge dubs Greenpeace protest stunt reckless
Nine Greenpeace activists were charged with burglary and vandalism Tuesday after using a zip line to unfurl giant banners from P&G's headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. A judge chastised the activists, saying they put people in danger.
The activists were arrested on burglary and vandalism charges after their Tuesday protest of the consumer products company's use of palm oil from a supplier Greenpeace says is tied to tropical forest destruction in Indonesia.
Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg said the protest, in which the activists used a zip line to unfurl giant banners from P&G's two towers as a helicopter filmed them, was "a reckless and ill-advised stunt." He called the protest alarming.
"You put people in danger," he said. "You take what they might consider to be a selfless cause, and you turn it into a selfish act by putting people in danger in this manner."
Greenpeace said all nine activists had posted bail and been released from custody by Wednesday evening. Their cases will go to a grand jury.
Palm oil is commonly used in shampoo, cosmetics and other products. P&G said Tuesday it is committed to achieving a 100 percent sustainable supply of palm oil by 2015.
In court, attorney William Gallagher told the judge that the activists aren't flight risks and will return for every court proceeding, even though all of them live out of state, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported (http://cin.ci/1g0sFgR ). He said all of them work in professional jobs and none has a criminal record.
A Greenpeace representative, Amy Moas, said the activists were willing to deal with the consequences of their protest and the environmental organization backs them completely.
Police are still trying to determine how the activists evaded usually tight security at the company's headquarters.
P&G spokeswoman Lisa Popyk said in an email that P&G Security's preliminary investigation showed that one of the protesters appears to have gained illegal access to the building through a third party who shares a P&G office space.
"That person then let the others in via a secured entrance," Popyk said.
Authorities said property damage, including broken window locks, would total more than $10,000.