Muscogee Nation activist dangled from bridge to stop oil ship

Marty Aranaydo took this photo as he dangled from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon, as part of a protest against drilling in the Arctic. Photo from Facebook

A citizen of the Muscogee Nation was among 13 activists who risked their lives in Oregon in an attempt to prevent an oil ship from heading to Alaska.

Marty Aranaydo, the founder of the Indigenous Peoples Power Project, dangled from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland for nearly 40 hours on Wednesday and Thursday before being removed by law enforcement. He joined the protest out of solidarity with Alaska Natives who oppose energy development in their subsistence areas of the Arctic Ocean.

"Everybody against big oil," Aranaydo said in a video he posted on Facebook during hour 38 of a protest that attracted international attention.

"It usually happens to [indigenous people] first," Aranaydo said of destructive energy development. "Let's do it. Keep fighting."

Martin Aranaydo in his Hour 38 video. Still image from Facebook

Once Aranaydo and the other protesters, all of whom are affiliated with Greenpeace USA, were removed from the bridge, theMSV Fennica, an icebreaker and supply vessel, passed through on its journey to the Arctic. The ship will help Royal Dutch Shell drill for oil in areas that Alaska Natives rely on for seals, whales, polar bears and other subsistence foods.

Even though the Greenpeace group did not succeed in blocking the ship permanently, activists considered the protest to be a success. It came amid six days of related events in Portland that targeted Shell, whose safety infractions have resulted in fines and enforcement actions from the Interior Department.

The MSV Fennica, incidentally, had been in Portland because it was being repaired after suffering damage in a non-drilling related incident in Alaska.

After coming down from the bridge, the activists were cited for criminal trespassing and interfering with a peace officer. They were not jailed and Aranaydo was back on solid ground last night, amused by some of the local media coverage.

Martin Aranaydo was back on solid ground on July 30 after dangling from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon, for nearly 40 hours. Photo from Facebook

Greenpeace hopes all of the attention brings action from Washington, D.C., The group is calling on President Barack Obama to cancel Shell's leases in the Arctic.

In May, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave conditional approval for one of Shell's drilling plans. The agency said Alaska Native views were taken into account.

Related Stories:
DOI approves offshore drilling bid opposed by Alaska Natives (05/12)
Shell stops off-shore drilling in Alaska due to safety issues (9/18)
Shell sues Alaska Native opponent of off-shore development (3/5)
Alaska Natives challenge permit for offshore development (2/23)
Alaska Natives ask 9th Circuit to block off-shore drilling plans (9/30)
Alaska Natives criticize new analysis on drilling in Arctic Ocean (10/13)
DOI delays decision on off-shore drilling in Alaska (11/20)

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