SALEM — State police ended a protest and occupation of Gov. Kate Brown’s office Thursday night over the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project by arresting 21 people for criminal trespass.
They were the remaining demonstrators who filled the governor’s ceremonial office Thursday afternoon to show their opposition to the project in Coos Bay.
The protest started with hundreds on the Capitol steps before moving inside to the rotunda midday and then to Brown’s office on the second floor.
Brown wasn’t in the office at the time but did talk to protesters by phone. Later in the evening, she returned and talked with those occupying her office.
“I believe that Oregonians are best served by knowing that there is a fair process and that I’m not putting my finger on the scale one way or another,” the governor told the occupiers, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. “Because as you know, your community is quite divided on this issue. Your community is extremely divided on this issue.”
Thomas Joseph, a leader of the sit-in, said that around 9:30 p.m., the Oregon State Police ordered about 65 protesters to disperse.
At that time, many of those remaining packed up and left the Capitol, but 21 individuals stayed and were arrested by state troopers.
The Jordan Cove project includes a gas pipeline running across 229 miles of Oregon landscape, from the border town of Malin east of Klamath Falls to Coos Bay.
Proponents say the project would be an economic boon for Coos County, while environmentalists say the risks to Oregon’s environment are significant.
According to a press release from Southern Oregon Rising Tide, one of those arrested was 72-year-old Sandy Lyons, a landowner in Days Creek who would be impacted by the pipeline.
Lyons said Thursday that her family has lived and worked on their Douglas County ranch for nearly 30 years and have been fighting the pipeline for the past 15 years.
“I am here today because we have tried every possible way to be heard and want somehow to gain the governor’s attention to how wrong this is, and the negative ways in which it will permanently scar us and our land,” Lyons said.