Crime

Protesters on railway trestle in Chuckanut Bay stop trains for nearly 11 hours

A man sits in a tripod he erected on a BNSF Railway trestle in Chuckanut Bay Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, 2016, as a freight train sits stopped on the tracks. The man blocked the tracks to protest the transportation of fossil fuels, according to Deep Green Resistance, the environmentalist group that claimed to have planned the protest.
A man sits in a tripod he erected on a BNSF Railway trestle in Chuckanut Bay Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, 2016, as a freight train sits stopped on the tracks. The man blocked the tracks to protest the transportation of fossil fuels, according to Deep Green Resistance, the environmentalist group that claimed to have planned the protest. Courtesy of Max Wilbert

Trains were delayed for nearly 11 hours between Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, and early Sunday morning when three protesters blocked the tracks on a trestle in Chuckanut Bay.

The delays began around 4:30 p.m. when a man used three 20-foot-long poles to erect a tripod on the trestle in the path of a northbound BNSF Railway freight train, said Gus Melonas, a BNSF spokesman based in Seattle.

The man then hung a seat from the top of the tripod, climbed in it and refused to leave.

BNSF police and Washington State Patrol personnel used a saw to cut sections of the tripod down to dismantle it and arrest the man, said Max Wilbert with Deep Green Resistance, the environmental activist group that claimed to have planned the protest.

The man, 32-year-old Spencer Rodimir Morgan, was arrested about midnight and booked into the Whatcom County Jail, Wilbert said, adding that he was released on bail.

Jail records show a man with that name was booked into the jail about 12:40 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, on suspicion of second-degree criminal trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing.

As he was being arrested, two other men walked onto railroad property and chained themselves to the train that had stopped on the trestle, Wilbert said. Police worked for about an hour, Wilbert said, to cut the locks.

According to Wilbert, those two men were cited and released.

Melonas said he could not confirm any of the protesters’ names. Trains, he said, were up and running again by about 3 a.m. Sunday.

The hold-up caused delays of “timely local, national and international freight,” Melonas noted, but would not say how many trains were delayed or what freight they were carrying. He added that several Amtrak trains carrying passengers also were delayed, but did not know specifics.

An Amtrak representative was not immediately available for comment Sunday.

“It’s obviously dangerous for people to trespass on railroad property but it also has significant ramifications,” Melonas said. “There’s significant consequences in holding up a train. We don’t take this lightly and we’re going to continue to monitor this and ensure these trains move safely.”

Deep Green Resistance, in a statement, said the goal behind the blockade was to protest the transportation of fossil fuels, which “must be stopped to save the planet from global warming.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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