PORTLAND, Ore. -- A judge ruled Greenpeace USA to be in contempt and issued sanctions of $2,500 an hour as the protest blocking a Shell ship continued.
Shell and Greenpeace USA appeared at an emergency hearing in federal court in Alaska on Thursday morning to determine if protesters dangling from a bridge in Portland violated a court injunction.
Attorneys for Shell filed an emergency motion claiming that Greenpeace should be fined for violating the court's order.
The judge ruled that starting at 10 a.m. Friday, Greenpeace would be fined $5,000 an hour. The ship passed under the St. Johns Bridge at 5:55 p.m., meaning Greenpeace would be fined $17,500.
In May, Alaska U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued an order prohibiting Greenpeace members from interrupting or stopping ships involved in Shell's offshore Arctic drilling.
Lawyers for Shell provided screenshots from Portland media showing the attempted departure of the Fennica from Portland on Thursday morning. Thirteen Greenpeace protesters were dangling from the St. Johns Bridge in an attempt to block the ship.
Greenpeace lawyers said the Fennica stopped short of the activists when it turned around and kayakers were also in the way.
Greenpeace said the kayakers in the river were not employees or directed by Greenpeace.
Shell lawyers argued Greenpeace knew about this protest because the environmental group send out a funding pitch to donors showing the protesters on the bridge. Shell claimed Greenpeace clearly violated the court's injunction.
Shell released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
"We have consistently stated that we respect the right of individuals to protest our Arctic operations so long as they do so safely and within the boundaries of the law. The staging of protesters in Portland was not safe nor was it lawful. Furthermore, Greenpeace demonstrated a complete lack of regard for the authority of a U.S. Federal Court. We are pleased with today's court ruling that holds Greenpeace in contempt and prescribes fines for further non-compliance."
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