You are here

Updated: Greenpeace Climbers Arrested for Climate Change Protest at Mount Rushmore National Memorial


Greenpeace protesters unfurled a huge banner on Mount Rushmore to protest climate change and U.S. policy. Greenpeace photo.

Eleven Greenpeace members were arrested Wednesday for mounting a protest on the granite presidential faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial to urge President Obama to "show real leadership on global warming."

Park staff were alerted by security systems at 10:11 a.m., local time that a number of individuals had breached a controlled area and accessed the top of the monument. While the climbers were able to unfurl a 65-foot-by-35-foot banner next to Abraham Lincoln's face, they were arrested shortly thereafter and taken to Rapid City, South Dakota, and jailed. Possible charges range from trespass to destruction of government property.

Park workers planned to assess the monument for any damage and were to remove the banner as soon as they could safely do so.

National Park Service officials would not say how the 11 managed to evade Mount Rushmore's security systems, reach the top of the monument, and rappel down its face, nor would they describe what security measures are employed at Mount Rushmore.

The banner draped across the front of the monument featured an unfinished portrait of President Obama with the message, "America honors leaders not politicians: Stop Global Warming."

The demonstration comes as President Obama met with other G8 leaders in L'Aquila, Italy, on Wednesday to discuss the global warming crisis in the lead-up to UN climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

"This monument celebrates leaders who rose to the great challenges of our past. Global warming is the greatest crisis humankind has ever faced and it is the defining test of leadership for this generation. It's an open question whether President Obama will pass that test," said Greenpeace USA Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett.

According to a Greenpeace release the activists were trained in rock and industrial climbing and took special care not to damage the monument, using existing anchors placed by the National Park Service for periodic cleanings.

The demonstration followed a series of protests in Italy earlier Wednesday where other Greenpeace activists hung banners on coal plant smokestacks calling attention to the collective failure of leadership on global warming at the G8.

"We're at a moment in history where President Obama must show real leadership on global warming, not only for Congress and the American people, but for the world. Unfortunately, the steps taken to address the crisis so far have been grossly inadequate," said Muffett. "While President Obama's speeches on global warming have been inspiring, we've seen a growing gap between the president's words and his actions."

According to Greenpeace, "the best science shows that to avoid catastrophic global warming, governments must take action to keep global temperature rise as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible.

"Given President Obama's pledge to follow the science, it's troubling that his administration has not yet endorsed emission targets strong enough to keep us below that critical threshold," the activist group said.

Furthermore, the group, said, the experience earlier this year "with climate legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, which was drastically weakened by lobbyists for the oil and coal industries and other big polluters, showed that unless the president provides strong leadership on this issue, special interests will win out over the common interest."

"Doing what it takes to solve global warming demands real political courage," Muffett added. "If President Obama intends to earn a place among this country's true leaders, he needs to show that courage, and base his actions on the scientific reality rather than political convenience."

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to use every tool at his disposal, both within and outside Congress, to strengthen U.S. climate policy with scientific integrity, and to take that policy to Copenhagen in December as evidence the U.S. will do what it takes to solve the climate crisis.

Specifically, Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to:

* Strive to keep global temperatures as far below a 2 degrees Celsius increase as possible, compared to pre-industrial levels to avert catastrophic climate change;

* Set a goal of peaking global emissions by 2015 and be as close to zero as possible by 2050, compared to 1990 levels;

* Cut emissions in the U.S. by 25-40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels;

* Join and encourage other members of the G8 to establish a funding mechanism that provides $106 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to global warming impacts that are now unavoidable and halt tropical deforestation.

Greenpeace is also calling on President Obama to attend the Copenhagen conference personally to ensure a strong, science-based agreement is reached.


i am truly sorry to hear about these idoits hanging the flag at mt. rushmore,i worked there for the summer a few yrs. ago,and every nite would help do the evening shows..i wish that greenpeace people would of fell off the faces..they should be arrested and pay a heavy fine for doing something so dumb,what the hell has mt. rushmore got to do with there stances.????and where do these people get paid?or work?

These people need to be arrested. What if every experienced climber in the world decided to climb Mount Rushmore. No one is allowed even near the monument but they think that because they have a cause it is OK. Lock 'em up.

You wanted change.... well here it comes

We visited Mt Rushmore for the 4th of July (a wonderful experience) and I'm very thankful we are out of there now with this going on. I want to see the monument - not some banner hanging up. Sad that people can't find an acceptable way to voice their opinions.

Jail Time!!!! Thats unacceptable

They should protest quietly in their own homes! Mt Rushmore has nothing to do with the President nor his stance on global warming. Mt Rushmore is about tourist dollars and honoring expanisionist leaders. And, it won't even be hurt by global warming.

Looks like the protest worked; we're all talking about it. I'm not a fan of Greenpeace (not because they are too far left, but because they often are very poor at solidarity with other groups - see "Whale Wars" for a good example) but good for them. Since Mt. Rushmore is about "tourist dollars and honoring expansionist leaders," then I don't really see the harm. I suspect they thought the place relevant because it has to do with presidents, and they were getting a message to the president.

Absurd in most respects? You bet. That's what the voice of reason has been reduced to on a lot of questions of injustice. People protest and raise their voices loudly, obnoxiously, and provocatively when they feel there is no real conversation, no real seat at the table for what's right.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Al Gore says this battle is the same as fighting Hitler, so what's wrong with using four dead American presidents in granite to take up the cause against such a readily apparent EVIL? Even Kurt Repanshak is on board with his recent declaration that "I've pledged blind faith to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, a scientific body comprised of some of the best scientific minds in the world, one that is said to reflect the consensus of the international scientific community, one that publishes reports -- based on peer-reviewed studies, mind you -- only after they are gone through line by line and word by word and approved by all member countries."

What more do you need? This is a fight against a global evil. Get on board or live with the guilt of your inaction for the rest of your life. It would be like anti-Nazis hijacking a New York Yankees game in 1939 and spreading a banner across the scoreboard to bring attention to the impending Holocaust in Nazi Germany. You'd say "what does enjoying baseball and Lou Gehrig have to do with Hitler?". The very fate of the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe would have depended on your awareness and support. So what gives?

Is this any different? Or is it even more of a grave threat to human existence?

After all we're talking about the fate of a planet! So you say Mount Rushmore is off limits????!!!!


Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments