Five people who chained themselves to drilling equipment at the site of Puget Sound Energy’s liquefied natural gas facility in the Port of Tacoma were arrested Wednesday morning.
The protesters were eventually removed from the equipment and will be charged with malicious mischief, trespassing and obstruction, Tacoma Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
One of those arrested was City Council candidate Sarah Morken, a socialist who’s running for the council’s open at-large position.
The protest was organized by Tacoma Direct Action. The group organizes nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience to make demands associated with social, economic, environmental and racial justice issues, said spokeswoman Claudia Riedener.
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“The whole thing was to draw public awareness that PSE is building such a huge plant so close to the public and industry,” said protester Steven Storms.
The protest began shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday. Up to 50 people gathered outside the site while the other five were chained to an auger near East 11th Street and Alexander Avenue East.
“This is private property,” Cool told protesters. “They’ve asked us to keep people off the property and not to allow anyone on it, which is their right.”
The 33-acre property is owned by the port but leased to PSE.
Storms, a retired chemical engineer, is against the plant.
“It’s hazardous and dangerous and has a lot of pollution in it,” Storms said.
Tacoma police officers manned two checkpoints on 11th Street during the protest.
“We stopped people to see if they had a reason (to visit the area),” Cool said. “We did turn a couple people away.”
The vehicle turnarounds were made for safety reasons, Cool said. There was no parking in the area.
“You can walk in. We allowed people to do that,” she said.