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Greenpeace Targets P&G

March 6, 2014

Activists protest source of palm oil.

That Rountable on Sustainable Palm Oil apparently isn't big enough for the folks at Greenpeace International. Nine Greenpeace activists rappeled and hung banners in protest of Procter & Gamble's activities outside of the company's headquarters, in Cincinnati, this week. The activists were arrested on burglary and vandalism charges after their Tuesday protest.

The environmental organization says the 60-foot banners on P&G's two towers were in protest of the consumer products company's use of palm oil from a supplier that Greenpeace says is linked to tropical forest destruction in Indonesia.

Their actions didn't please the municipal court judge, who called the stunt alarming and set bond at $50,000 each.

Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg said the protest, in which the activists used a zip line to unfurl giant banners from P&G's two towers as a helicopter filmed them, was "a reckless and ill-advised stunt."

"You put people in danger," he said. "You take what they might consider to be a selfless cause, and you turn it into a selfish act by putting people in danger in this manner."

Greenpeace said all nine activists had posted bail and been released from custody by Wednesday evening. Their cases will go to a grand jury.

Palm oil is commonly used in shampoo, cosmetics and other products. P&G said Tuesday it is committed to achieving a 100 percent sustainable supply of palm oil by 2015.

In court, attorney William Gallagher told the judge that the activists aren't flight risks and will return for every court proceeding, even though all of them live out of state, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. He said all of them work in professional jobs and none has a criminal record.

A Greenpeace representative, Amy Moas, said the activists were willing to deal with the consequences of their protest and the environmental organization backs them completely.

Police are still trying to determine how the activists evaded usually tight security at the company's headquarters.

P&G spokeswoman Lisa Popyk said in an email to The Associated Press that P&G Security's preliminary investigation showed that one of the protesters appears to have gained illegal access to the building through a third party who shares a P&G office space.

"That person then let the others in via a secured entrance," Popyk said.

Authorities said property damage, including broken window locks, would total more than $10,000.

Authorities were stunned that the activists were able to carry out their protest from inside a company known for stringent security to protect both its personnel and innovations in best-selling brands such as Tide detergent and Pampers diapers.

"Our global security team is crackerjack, and they have already taken steps to better secure the area," spokeswoman Lisa Popyk said.

She declined to disclose the changes, and said she didn't know whether anyone had been disciplined for the breach.

But she did provide new details on how the protesters gained entry. She said the company determined from its initial investigation that one activist claimed to have an appointment.

Dressed in unobtrusive business clothes, he then let in the others through another door, she said. They carried their protest materials, including a tiger costume, in what Popyk called "inconspicuous bags."

"It was very clever, and well-planned," she said.

Think about that the next time you're making a sales call in Cincy!


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