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Update from Cincinnati: Felony charges dropped for Greenpeace forest activists

by Annie Leonard

December 12, 2014

Greenpeace activists protest at Procter & Gamble’s global headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 4, 2014, calling attention the company's link to tropical deforestation. Greenpeace International conducted a year-long investigation, including field trips in Indonesia, which exposed links between destructive palm oil plantations and the P&G supply chain. Photo by Greenpeace

©Greenpeace

I am relieved and heartened to share that the activists who protested against rainforest destruction at Procter & Gamble headquarters this past March just accepted a plea deal for the misdemeanor of Trespass, after initially being overcharged with two felonies and up to 9.5 years in prison. They will complete 80 hours of community service, but are not going to prison.

How did we get here?

Earlier this year, Greenpeace exposed Procter & Gamble the multinational corporation behind products like Head & Shoulders shampoo and Gillette shaving cream for using palm oil linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia.

In response, over 400,000 Greenpeace supporters sent messages to P&G and thousands more made calls. Activists also held protests all over the world including a protest at P&Gs global headquarters in Cincinnati.

The activists in Cincinnati unfurled two 60 ft banners outside of P&Gs headquarters sending a message to P&G about how the company could protect forests and endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger. Employees watched and snapped photos, and the activists came down peacefully.

A month later, P&G announced a new palm oil policy that includes sustainability and human rights goals! Procter & Gamble heard the activists message. In fact, the protest has opened up doors for us to work together to address other sustainability issues.

The peaceful protest was a success. But shortly after the protest ended, the activists were overcharged with the felonies of burglary and vandalism, threatening 9.5 years in prison. While the activists in Cincinnati were prepared to accept the consequences of their actions for a cause they believe in, they faced disproportionate penalties.

Thats why last Fridays plea which dropped the two felony charges is so important.

Get to know the activists in their own words and learn what motivated them to take action:

Thank You

It has been an incredibly challenging ten months for the activists, who put their futures on the line to take a stand for an end to senseless forest destruction. I am so profoundly thankful for what theyve accomplished and what theyve endured.

Im also so thankful for the over 40,000 people like you who signed in support for the activists in the face of intimidating charges. For your belief that when we act together, change is possible.

This protest has reminded me just how difficult it is to make change in a system that works the way ours does: one that doesn’t always put the needs of the people first. In a time where we are surrounded by abuses of power, from police brutality to environmental destruction, thank you for having the courage to stand up and demand change.

Now more than ever, I am convinced that each of our little acts of courage when added together can repair and rebuild our world.

cincinnati activists

Annie Leonard

By Annie Leonard

Annie Leonard is the co-Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. Leonard began her career at Greenpeace in 1988 and has returned to help the organization inspire and mobilize millions of people to take action to create a more sustainable future together. She is based in San Francisco.

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