Local Officials in Southeast Alaska Try and Fail to Derail Greenpeace Boat Tour
The M.V. Esperanza completed the first leg of its "Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms" tour of Southeast Alaska, leaving the gateway city of Ketchikan today. The ship's weeklong stay was marked by controversy as local officials tried to make the ship's visit as difficult as possible.
"Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms" Tour Completes First Leg
Ketchikan, Alaska - The M.V. Esperanza completed the first leg of its "Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms" tour of Southeast Alaska, leaving the gateway city of Ketchikan today. The ship's weeklong stay was marked by controversy as local officials tried to make the ship's visit as difficult as possible.
"As an Alaskan and an American, I'm shocked at the way that Ketchikan has reacted to our visit," said Melanie Duchin, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner and Alaska resident. "In Alaska, we have a tradition of welcoming visitors whether you agree with them or not, and in America, we have freedom of speech. This city's attempts to silence us are not typical of Alaskans, and they will not prevent us from continuing on with this tour or our efforts to protect the nation's endangered forests."
Some of the actions taken against Greenpeace include:
- Ignoring Greenpeace's 30-year history of nonviolence, a team of six armed Federal Protective Service officers were flown in to guard Ketchikan's federal building, solely because of Greenpeace's presence in the area.
- In late July, the City of Ketchikan rescinded dock space at the city's public dock, despite the fact that permission to dock had been granted on July 8. A letter notifying Greenpeace of the reversal stated, "As you are aware, safety and security continues to be a priority. The U.S. Coast Guard has re-informed us of that fact and we cannot provide the security your vessel and the cruise ships would require." Even after the Coast Guard denied voicing security concerns with respect to the Greenpeace ship, the City continued to refuse to accommodate the Esperanza, citing a lack of space.
- The day the ship arrived, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly passed a resolution, condemning Greenpeace's visit and advising businesses and residents of "their right to not provide services or supplies to Greenpeace." Two days later, the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce passed a similar resolution.
- After being denied a berth at the city docks, the Esperanza anchored outside Ward Cove, the toxic site of the defunct Ketchikan Pulp Company mill, which is now owned by the Borough. When Greenpeace requested to dock at the mill, the Borough agreed. Two hours later, the Borough rescinded its permission, citing safety and liability concerns.
- Despite these inflammatory moves by local officials, residents have expressed their support for Greenpeace. Everywhere, the ship's crew met residents who said they were embarrassed by the city's treatment of Greenpeace. A local day cruise operator offered the Esperanza use of his dock for transporting people on and off the ship. Local anglers brought gifts
- During their stay in Ketchikan, Greenpeace staff met with the Tongass Conservation Society, the U.S. Forest Service and members of the community to discuss logging issues. They also documented areas of national forest areas that have been clearcut as well as pristine lands. Throughout the week, Greenpeace staff also welcomed the public onto the ship.
For regular updates on the "Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms" tour visit: www.greenpeaceusa.org
CONTACT: Nancy Hwa on board, 202-257-7871 (cell); Carol Gregory in Washington, D.C., 202-413-8531The Greenpeace tour continues on to the Cleveland Peninsula, Cholmondeley Sound, Kosciusko Island, Anan Creek and Juneau.