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Greenpeace Activists Face Slew of Charges For Their Stunt At Mount Rushmore National Memorial


What changes will Greenpeace stunt bring to the National Park Service's law-enforcement ranks? Greenpeace photo.

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.


you can't change this world without acting out, do you think the revolutions start by people living their lives of quiet desperation? Any person who thinks that all of mans laws need to be obeyed for "our safety" or any other reason is a complete sheep, and I personally feel terrible for you.

If the Greenpeace criminals truly believed in their cause, they wouldn't be cowards and plead not guilty, costing the taxpayers additional tens of thousands of dollars. They would plead guilty, spend the time in jail and consider it a small sacrifice for the greater good.

Pleading not guilty places them in the same league as rich frat boys pulling a college stunt. And no one should respect that.

If you add beer cans to the list, the eco-wacko is named George Hayduke.

Flu-Bird, got a picture of who exactly left those wrappers, peels and cores?

If i could make a suggestion to the judge i would suggest these GREENPEACE idiots be put on a highway clean up program let them clean up all those gronola bar wrappers,banna peels and apple core left by all those eco-wackos

MRC - thank you, I did mean eminent domain, not public domain.

But also, thanks all you guys for this indepth history lesson.

@Dottie: Do you mean "eminent domain"? Because Public Domain makes no sense in your posting.

The US Government claimed the hill under Public Domain, probably. ... Maybe the US Federal Government didn't really break a law - what they probably did was not adhere to their Treaty. Isn't there a technical difference?

Interesting question, Dottie. A treaty is recognized under international law. The Constitution, the supreme law of the land, gives the executive branch the power to make treaties, which must be ratified by the U.S. Senate. Again, treaties are recognized as law internationally and by the US Constitution.

The Supreme Court case I mentioned above (UNITED STATES v. SIOUX NATION OF INDIANS, 448 U.S. 371 (1980)), and it's quite complicated, shows that there were several laws broken, including a violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Fort Laramie Treaty stipulated that the Black Hills were to be reserved for the Sioux in perpetuity. Congress used its eminent domain powers when it passed the Act of Feb. 28, 1877, which took the Black Hills from the Sioux. Congress ignored the "Fort Laramie Treaty[provision] that any cession of the lands contained within the Great Sioux Reservation would have to be joined in by three-fourths of the adult [Sioux] males. Instead, the treaty was presented just to Sioux chiefs and their leading men. It was signed by only 10% of the adult male Sioux population." So the second treaty was legally invalid.

The Supreme Court echoed a Court of Claims decision that the federal government could not simultaneously act as a trustee for Indians and exercise its imminent domain powers. It found that the "1877 Act effected a taking of tribal property, property which had been set aside for the exclusive occupation of the Sioux by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. That taking implied an obligation on the part of the Government to make just compensation to the Sioux Nation...".

So, in light of this, I'd say there isn't a technical difference. The federal government broke its own laws. Wasn't the first time; probably won't be the last.

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