Eleven protesters have been arrested after they rappelled from a busy highway bridge and dangled over the Houston Ship Channel, closing the vital artery for hours.
The Coast Guard said the closure came after the protesters were spotted Thursday afternoon at the Fred Hartman Bridge near Baytown, Texas.
The demonstrators were Greenpeace USA activists protesting the use of fossil fuels. They suspended themselves from the bridge ahead of Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston.
Greenpeace USA tweeted, “We’re in Houston shutting down the largest oil export channel in the country to resist Trump & the oil industry for fueling this #ClimateCrisis. It’s time to end the age of oil. #PeopleVsOil.”
Houston and Baytown firefighters rappelled to the protesters Thursday evening and lowered them to boats waiting below.
The protesters were taken ashore in handcuffs, accompanied by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy, CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV reports. Some had been hanging from the bridge for nearly 12 hours.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez says 12 activists serving as spotters on the bridge were arrested earlier.
The sheriff’s office told KHOU the demonstrators will face multiple charges including obstructing the roadway and obstructing the waterway. The office is checking with the area U.S. Attorney’s office about other possible charges.
In addition, police told KHOU, the activists could also face charges for a three-vehicle crash on the bridge after a van carrying the protesters partially blocked a lane. One person was hurt.
The Port of Houston, located along the ship channel, is home to the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.