Five protesters were arrested late Tuesday morning while trying to block a ship from unloading pieces of oil pipe at the Port of Vancouver. The protesters arrived early in the morning in boats and positioned themselves in the Columbia River at the base of one of the port’s docks.
The ship, carrying pipe for the Trans Mountain Pipeline under construction in British Columbia, was in a secure spot away from port property and protected by the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Port of Vancouver spokeswoman Heather Stebbings.
“It’s an evolving situation,” Stebbings said at about 9:30 a.m. “Port operations have been affected.”
The Vancouver Police Department and Coast Guard were called in and began communicating with protesters from two local groups, Portland Rising Tide and Mosquito Fleet. Some of the protesters chained themselves to the dock, according to a news release. Others remained in kayaks and boats in the water. Stebbings estimated there were about 20 protesters in total.
Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said police initially announced that the protesters needed to disperse, then began making arrests when they failed to do so. The arrests took place between 11:30 a.m. and noon, Stebbings said.
Stebbings said police arrested four protesters on boats and one who had been chained to a ladder leading up to the dock. The remaining protesters dispersed during the arrests or shortly thereafter, Kapp said.
The five who were arrested were booked on suspicion of criminal trespass, obstruction and failure to disperse, Kapp said.
The ship completed mooring around noon, Stebbings said.
Tuesday’s protest was aimed at raising awareness about the pipeline project, and activists called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Port of Vancouver commissioners to stop the shipment. It was the third such protest at the port since the start of September.
On Oct. 7, protesters from Rising Tide blocked a set of railroad tracks to stop pieces of the pipeline from a previous shipment from being sent by rail to Canada. No arrests resulted from that protest.
On Sept. 2, about 30 protesters from the Mosquito Fleet paddled out from Kelley Point Park in Portland to the Port of Vancouver to protest a cargo ship they said was carrying pipe to be used for the Trans Mountain Pipeline.