Look Out, I’m on the Loose Again!

It’s the six-month anniversary of the Rainforest Action Network banner-hang action against Cargill in downtown Minneapolis and thus, the end of my 6-month probation! Tall buildings beware, I’ve got you in my sights!

Photo: Taken about two hours into the action; I’m the one on the left corner of the banner in black. About half an hour later, law enforcement was able to figure out how to get us down.

The action was incredibly successful as well as technically challenging and fun! Rainforest Action Network coordinated the action to heighten awareness and bring focus to Cargill’s sourcing of palm oil from Indonesia, a campaign they’re still working on yet has achieved small victories along the way. (More on RAN’s palm oil campaign here.)

The location of the action was chosen on a skywalk outside of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange building, home to many of Cargill’s peers, to embarrass Cargill just days before their annual stockholders meeting. The action was successful in that law enforcement on site took nearly three hours to figure out how to get us down, meanwhile closing the street to traffic and buying us enough time for media to show up on site. Consequently, the action was covered by multiple TV stations in the Minneapolis area that night as well as articles run in a number of paper. (Read Star Tribune article on the action here.)

Deploying the two banners from the skywalk was a fun challenge as well. Whereas most banner-hang actions include setting anchors on top of the building/place where the climbers will descend from, the skywalk offered no such anchor points. Thus, each climber worked with a buddy across from them, carefully descending at the same time and simply counter-balancing each other’s weight on the same climb line. The first few practice goes of it, looking into my partner’s eyes and trusting that we’d both trust in each other was one of the most intense experiences of my life! Effective though as it took the law enforcement on-site quite some time to figure out how to safely remove us without letting one of us plummet to the ground.

Eventually we were removed from the skywalk and taken to the Hennepin County jail for booking, conveniently just a block away. After six hours, RAN posted our bail, we were processed and released with four misdemeanor charges:

  • Climbing building over 40ft
  • Public nuisance–annoy/injure/endanger safety
  • Presence at unlawful assembly
  • Obstruct legal process–lawful execution legal process

With the help of a pro-bono lawyer we had met with before the action, all five us of who were were arrested had the last three charges dropped with “climbing a building over 40ft” being dropped as well as long as we didn’t get convicted for it again within the next six months. Well folks, that six months is up!

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