As if 13 environmentalist dangling from a bridge in Portland, Oregon, to protest arctic drilling weren't strange in and of itself, the Greenpeace activists made the situation even weirder by taking to Reddit Wednesday afternoon for an Ask Me Anything session in which they answered questions about their experience thus far blocking a Shell icebreaker from leaving the city.
The activists began their protest early Wednesday morning, repelling from the city's St. Johns Bridge and suspending themselves above the Willamette River using ropes and hammocks. The protesters are hoping the human wall they've created will keep the icebreaker from leaving Swan Island port, where it docked for repairs. The ship is reportedly carrying equipment necessary for Shell's arctic drilling, which the protesters say will cause harm to locals and the environment.
"For people who live in the Arctic, the permafrost is melting, and indigenous communities are literally melting away. These communities' lands are falling into the ocean as the permafrost melts. Shell is a root cause of this problem," the protesters responded to one Reddit user who asked why they were willing to break the law for this cause.
— Dan Cannon (@DanEnviroCannon) July 29, 2015
The protesters have said they are willing to stick it out for as long as it takes to keep Shell from drilling, which could mean staying up there for weeks. Asked how they are passing the time, an activist said "people have books, crossword puzzles, social media, sleeping, it was a very late night. Some are doing interviews. Some are getting up and climbing up and down for exercise. Some of us brought journals to doodle or write poetry. There's a lot of different things we have to entertain ourselves."
Despite hanging in mid air, one of the activists said the scariest part of the protest was being chased by cops before climbing over the bridge rail and descending. "At that point, cops were coming over the bridge. We saw the lights, but we wanted to stay calm. We were nervous and anxious, because we saw the police lights. It's indescribable. But then I lowered safely into my descending gear," the protester said, adding that "if I do get a felony, it'll be something I think that can make a difference. I want to draw the eyes of the world to what Shell is doing."
Finally, the protesters encouraged others who've been inspired to take action as well. "We need more people. We need politicians to hear from more people. We need corporations to hear from more people that what oil companies are doing isn't right."