A recent publicity stunt by Greenpeace activists at Mount Rushmore National Memorial has produced a slew of charges against the activists that could lock them up for quite a while and prove quite costly.
While authorities aren't publicly discussing exactly how the 11 activists evaded Mount Rushmore's security systems on July 8 when they reached the top of Mount Rushmore and then rappeled down to drape a banner calling for more action from the Obama administration on climate change alongside the chiseled face of President Abraham Lincoln, they weren't being bashful with the charges they brought against the activists.
A federal grand jury has returned a four-count indictment charging eleven people and Greenpeace, Inc., a California corporation, with three or more misdemeanor offenses each relating to a July 8th incident in which a protest banner was unfurled on the mountain. The charges against Greenpeace and the eleven include one count of conspiracy to climb Mount Rushmore as prohibited by law. The indictment contains further specific allegations concerning the conspiracy charge which include the following:
Greenpeace provided planning and training for the individual co-conspirators.
Greenpeace caused the individual co-conspirators and their climbing, video, and photographic equipment to be transported to Rapid City, South Dakota, in preparation for climbing Mount Rushmore.
Greenpeace hired a helicopter to carry its members, agents and employees in order to allow them to observe, photograph and record the actions of individuals who were climbing Mount Rushmore on July 8th
As part of the conspiracy, certain individuals attempted to impede responding law enforcement officers by placing locks on security gates as well as by chaining themselves to areas where it would be difficult or impossible for responding officers to get around the individuals without risk of personal injury.
Greenpeace, Inc., is also charged with the following offenses:
Aiding and abetting eleven individuals trespassing in a national park by entering an area not open to the public without permission.
Aiding and abetting nine individuals with climbing Mount Rushmore as prohibited by law.
Aiding and abetting six individuals with intentionally interfering with a government employee or officer engaged in an official duty.
Charges against the eleven participants included conspiracy, trespass, illegally climbing the mountain and abetting others in these offenses. The maximum penalty for each of the four counts against Greenpeace is a $10,000 fine and restitution. The maximum penalty for each count naming an individual is six months’ imprisonment, a $5,000 fine and restitution. The investigation is being conducted by the Mount Rushmore rangers and by special agents of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Mark Vargo.
While how the activists deal with the charges remains to be seen, so too will how the National Park Service's security arm responds to the success of their protest. Supposedly Mount Rushmore is home to one of the more sizable and better equipped law-enforcement contingents found across the National Park System.