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News / Clark County News

Charges dismissed against activists who tried to block 2019 shipment at Port of Vancouver

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: July 22, 2021, 5:53pm

Criminal charges against four climate activists who attempted to block a shipment of parts for an oil pipeline at the Port of Vancouver in November 2019 were dismissed Wednesday in Clark County District Court.

The activists from Oregon’s Portland Rising Tide – Kelsey Baker, Mike Hastie, Samantha Krop and Bruce Watt – were charged with criminal trespass and failure to disperse.

“In agreeing to dismiss the case against our clients, the City of Vancouver finally recognized that it never had a real shot in convicting our clients of the trumped up charges,” Civil Liberties Defense Center attorney Sarah Alvarez said in a news release. “And while it’s a shame that it took the city nearly two years of wasted resources and time to realize this, it’s still a great day for our clients and the movement to end extractive industries that are hastening the demise of the planet.”

The protesters arrived early in the morning Nov. 5, 2019, in boats and positioned themselves in the Columbia River at the base of one of the port’s docks as a cargo ship was preparing to dock.

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, Port of Vancouver spokeswoman Heather Stebbings said on the day of the incident.

The Vancouver Police Department and Coast Guard were called and began communicating with activists 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 initially announced that the protesters needed to disperse, then began making arrests when they failed to do so.

The ship completed mooring around noon.

The 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 2019.

According to recent news reports and a Canadian government website, the pipeline is still in development, with some routing changes approved this month.