SALEM — State police ended a protest and occupation of Gov. Kate Brown’s office Thursday night by arresting 21 people for criminal trespass.
They were the remaining demonstrators who filled the governor’s ceremonial office Thursday afternoon to show their opposition to the liquefied natural gas project in Coos Bay.
The protest started with hundreds on the Capitol steps before moving inside to the rotunda midday, and then to Brown’s office, on the second floor.
According to Grace Werner of the climate group Southern Oregon Rising Tide, the idea to move the protest into the governor’s office was a spur-of-the-moment action.
“The governor has gotten really good at being on the fence with these issues,” Werner said. “There’s so much on the line for our communities. It’s hard to hear her say she wants our support when she’s the one with the power, and we need her to have our backs right now.”
Brown wasn’t in the office at the time, but did talk to protesters by phone. Later in the evening, she returned and talked with those occupying her office.
“She’s done what she’s continued to do — not answer the question and divert,” Thomas Joseph, a leader of the sit-in, said. “The best possible outcome is that Gov. Brown takes a stand, denies the project and makes sure her agencies enforce her decision to stand up for the citizens of Oregon.”
Joseph said that around 9:30 p.m., the Oregon State Police ordered about 65 protesters to disperse. The state police said in a press release Friday the order was given by Superintendent Travis Hampton.
At that time, many of those remaining packed up and left the Capitol, but 21 individuals stayed and were arrested by state troopers.
The target of the protesters is a project called Jordan Cove, which includes plans for a gas pipeline running across 229 miles of Oregon landscape, from the border town of Malin east of Klamath Falls to Coos Bay.
“The Jordan Cove LNG facility, pipeline, and tankers pose big risks to me, my family, and the lives and property of my friends and thousands of local residents,” said Mike Graybill, a Coos County resident and former employee of the Oregon Department of State Lands. “I am taking action today to urge Governor Kate Brown to step up and take a position of opposition to this project. Oregon could and should invest in a future for Coos Bay that does not threaten so many people’s lives and negatively impact existing businesses and residents.”
Proponents say the project would be an economic boon for Coos County, while environmentalists say the risks to Oregon’s environment are significant.
According to a press release from Southern Oregon Rising Tide, one of those arrested was 72-year-old Sandy Lyons, a landowner in Days Creek who would be impacted by the pipeline.
Lyons said Thursday that her family has lived and worked on their Douglas County ranch for nearly 30 years and have been fighting the pipeline for the past 15 years.
“I am here today because we have tried every possible way to be heard and want somehow to gain the governor’s attention to how wrong this is, and the negative ways in which it will permanently scar us and our land,” Lyons said.
Also arrested were Guy Berliner, 49, Shawn Creeden, 38, Simone Crowe, 31, Kelly Campbell, 47, Diana Rempe, 53, and Dineen Orourke, 24, all of Portland; Eric Howanietz, 38, Tyee Williams, 22, and Samuel Yergler, 34, all of Eugene; Rianna Koppel, 31, and Kayla Starr, 78, of Talent; Derek De Forest Pyle, 28, of Ashland; Domyo Burk, 48, of Beaverton; Jonathon Major, 42, of Jacksonville; Sofia Jokela, 28, and Henry Jokela, 25, of Milwaukie; Stephen Dear, 55, of Elmira; Emma Rohwer, 40, of Klamath Falls; Sally Malitz, 72, of Corvallis; and May Wallace, 69, of California.
The state police said they were each accused of second-degree criminal trespassing and booked at the Marion County Jail. The crime is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,250.
The jail’s online inmate roster showed four of those arrested — Lyons, Koppel, Creeden and Pyle — remained lodged as of Friday morning.