The Coast Guard reopened the Houston Ship Channel today after a protest demonstration near Baytown, Texas, had closed it.
The closure on began Thursday morning after Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders received notification that approximately 11 individuals were suspended from the Fred Hartman Bridge.
As we reported yesterday, the protest was mounted by Greenpeace USA which said that twenty-two activists had “shut down the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the United States ahead of the third Democratic primary debate in nearby Houston.”
What happened to the Greenpeace protesters?
After weighing all the safety considerations, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office deputies first arrested twelve activists who were on the bridge handling the topside end of the protest.
According to KHOU TV, Houston and Baytown firefighters then rappelled down to the protesters and lowered them to boats waiting below.
The protesters were then taken ashore in handcuffs, accompanied by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy.
A Greenpeace USA spokeswoman told the Houston Chronicle that by 1:30 a.m this morning, all the activists had been taken into custody and were now waiting to hear about charges.
“Our partnerships with federal, state and local agencies as well as stakeholders allows us to quickly respond to any maritime safety concerns and mitigate impact to the waterway,” said Capt. Richard Howes, Sector Houston-Galveston deputy commander. “The work of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office greatly supported the Coast Guard’s efforts to reopen the waterway to vessel traffic.”
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said protesters could face state-level charges for impeding traffic on the bridge and in the channel.
In addition, authorities said, one of the protesters’ vans caused a wreck on the bridge, leaving one person hospitalized.