CINCINNATI – The "Greenpeace Nine" face felony charges carrying up to nine-and-a-half years in prison and a $20,000 fine stemming from the March 4 protest at Procter & Gamble after indictments were issued in Hamilton County Wednesday.
“While some people may be sympathetic to their message, this is definitely a crime," Prosecutor Joe Deters said after announcing the charges. "This was a very sophisticated plan that put P&G, fire and police personnel at risk while causing damage to a major corporation.
"They had numerous other ways to get their message across without committing a crime. They should be prepared to face the consequences.”
Hamilton County jail records list the accused, all of whom were charged with burglary and vandalism, as:
- Charles Long, 34, of Chicago
- Sean O'Brien, 22, of Oakland, Calif.
- Tyler Wilkerson, 26, of San Diego
- Nima Shahidi, 29, of Fallston, Md.
- Mike Herbert, 30, of Chicago
- Jesse Coleman, 28, of Washington, D.C.
- Marcella "Koala" Largess, 28, of Baltimore
- Denise Rodriguez, 20, of Corona, N.Y.
- Tyler Sanville, 28, of Washington, D.C.
The nine protesters were released on $50,000 cash bail March 5.
In response to the charges, Greenpeace spokesperson Kat Clark issued the following prepared statement:
“Nine Greenpeace activists were indicted today, yet Indonesia's forests are still disappearing at a rate of more than nine Olympic swimming pools each minute; which is the greater crime?" Clark said. "Peaceful protest has long been a valuable way to bring important issues to the public attention, and to companies like P&G that have the ability to influence the fate of the forests and the last remaining Sumatran tigers. Unilever, L'Oreal, Mars, Kellogg and Nestle have already committed to keeping rainforest destruction out of their products, there’s no reason for P&G not to follow suit.”
Damage to P&G is estimated to be $17,000, primarily to the windows, Deters said. There was some minor damage to the roof.
Last week, police closed its investigation into the high-wire demonstration less than three days after activists used zip lines to hang banners from P&G's twin towers.
Central Business District Capt. Paul Broxterman, who met with Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell March 7, said police had the evidence they need to support the charges, both of which are felonies.
“We may never know how they got in, and it’s not imperative for us to know,” Broxterman said then. “At this point, it’s really an internal matter for P&G."
Authorities have said one protester likely gained access to an auxiliary building at Sixth and Sycamore streets after making an appointment with a third-party, which had office space in the building. That protester then let in other Greenpeace activists before they made it to the 12th floor of the towers and strung zip lines to hang the banners. One protester, dressed as a tiger, dangled from one of the lines before police were called to P&G. The demonstrators were arrested without incident.
By 1:04 p.m. on March 4, the protesters had gotten the twin towers corporate headquarters building, broke 12 locks and attached zip lines to the north and east towers, according to the police incident recall log.
The protesters unfurled two 60-foot banners to call attention to what they claimed is P&G's link to tropical deforestation. The banners read: “Head & Shoulders, Stop Putting Tiger Survival on the Line” and “Head & Shoulders, Wipes out Dandruff & Rainforests.”
They remained there until 2:45 p.m. when they rolled up the banners and peacefully complied with Cincinnati police. 911 calls indicate police response to the incident was slow, but police communication logs indicate it took 16 minutes for the first police car to arrive.
The first call to emergency dispatchers was received at 1:04 p.m. Tuesday, according to a police incident recall log. Officers first arrived at 1:20 p.m., according to the log.
Authorities said they do not expect additional people to be charged in the case.
And, they added, there is no basis to file additional charges against Greenpeace related to a helicopter spotted above P&G headquarters on Tuesday. Greenpeace hired the helicopter, which was used by activists to film the stunt, authorities said.
Greenpeace duped the local helicopter service into flying a photographer and videographer over the group's protest at Procter & Gamble headquarters Tuesday, the owner told WCPO.
Steve Paquette of Stratus Helicopters
said they thought they were hired for a typical downtown photo shoot. The two photographers never said they worked for Greenpeace and the person who booked the flight never mentioned the activist group, either, Paquette said.
Greenpeace accused the Fortune 500 company of working with negligent palm oil contractors, who destroy rainforests in Indonesia.
WCPO's crime and justice reporter Kareem Elgazzar and Tom McKee contributed to this report.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Greenpeace, Procter & Gamble and palm oil