A climate protest on the Ithaca Commons Thursday afternoon culminated with twelve arrests by the Ithaca Police Department after activists refused to leave a downtown bank, according to an IPD media release.
The protest began at 9:30 a.m. with demonstrators occupying traffic in the intersection of Green St. and Cayuga St. By 10:39 a.m., the protest had disrupted TCAT bus service according to a tweet from Tompkins County Area Transit. Buses returned to their typical schedules around 11:50 a.m., TCAT later tweeted.
This was the third Ithaca protest in two days in support of the Wet’suwet’en people, an indigenous group in northwestern British Columbia, Canada. The demonstrations were protesting the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en land by the TransCanada corporation.
According to the release, protesters occupied the downtown branch of Chase Bank shortly before noon, and refused to leave after being “given many opportunities to leave.” The IPD received assistance from the Tompkins County Police Department and the New York State Police to make the arrests, the release stated.
The arrests included eight adults and four juveniles, who were released to the custody of their guardians.
The adults were charged with criminal trespass in the third degree, which is a class B misdemeanor and can be punished with $500 fine and up to three months in prison. They will be released pending arraignment in Ithaca City Court on Feb. 26, according to the IPD.
This week’s protests corresponded with Global Divestment Day, declared by the climate action group Fossil Free, a project of 350.org — a United States-based international climate advocacy organization. Divestment protests took place Thursday afternoon on Cornell’s campus, when activists from Climate Justice Cornell temporarily blocked traffic at the intersection of Tower Road and East Avenue.
In a statement obtained by The Sun, Justin Page, corporate communications associate for Chase Bank, said that they “recognize the complexity of climate change issues,” and that they “have a significant amount of work underway to further build upon [their] efforts on climate-related risk.”