Oil-sands stunt gets protesters arrestedUnited Kingdom
The Globe and Mail
Todd Karol/ Reuters
TODD KOROL/REUTERS Greenpeace protesters unveil a banner off the Calgary Tower on Tuesday. The protesters want to separate oil and state and were protesting in Calgary, the headquarters for big oil in Canada.
The aerial acrobatics began around 9:30 a.m. when three climbers draped a banner that said “Separate Oil and State” across the tourist attraction’s bulbous observation deck. The protest came to an end about two hours later when the last of the climbers clambered back to the top of the 200-metre tower and were arrested.
Police shut down several blocks around the site while the protesters hung from the top. Greenpeace spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said the protest was meant to outline “the cozy relationship” oil companies have with the federal and provincial governments that “allows companies to self-monitor in the oil sands.” Visitors to the Calgary Tower can pay for a panoramic view 160 metres above the ground of Calgary and the mountains.
Officials at the tower refused to comment.
“We don’t know how they got their equipment up there with them, but apparently they did not have it with them when they went up the elevator this morning,” said Calgary police Inspector Geoff Gawlinski. “We don’t know if they were able to store it previously somehow or how they got up. We’re obviously investigating that.”
Insp. Gawlinski said it appears the protesters crawled through a window to get out onto the observation deck, where they lowered themselves and the banner for all to see. He said a tactical team assessed the climbing equipment “and it appeared that they were properly set up so there was no urgency to intervene and they felt comfortable letting them ascend themselves.”
Charges are pending, Insp. Gawlinski said.
Last week, Greenpeace protested in Vancouver at the office of Enbridge Inc. and demanded the company halt plans to build a pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia. The group said a three-million-litre oil spill from the company’s pipelines into a Michigan river was an example of what could happen in B.C.
Three weeks ago, Israeli police arrested 17 Greenpeace activists after they infiltrated an Israeli power station by sea to protest the use of coal to fuel power plants. Last September, Greenpeace members in kayaks and canoes unfurled a massive banner that said “Dying for Climate Leadership” across the Athabasca River beneath a bridge linking two Suncor oilsands sites north of Fort McMurray, Alta. At the same time, protesters climbed up on a conveyor belt used to take bitumen to the upgrader. All were arrested and charged.
Greenpeace mounted a similar demonstration at a massive Shell oil sands operation shortly after that. Two dozen environmental activists from Canada, France and the United States sneaked onto the property and chained themselves to giant earth-moving equipment. That protest ended peacefully after 31 hours with an agreement that there would be no charges or arrests. In July of 2008 Greenpeace protesters gained access to Syncrude’s Aurora mine site near Fort McMurray, Alta. Each was fined for trespassing. In July of 2001 two Greenpeace activists scaled Toronto’s CN Tower in an bid to draw attention to climate change.
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