HOUSTON – Twenty-three Greenpeace activists were cleared of the felony charge of impairing or interrupting critical infrastructure during a protest on the Fred Hartman Bridge in September 2019. They were, however, indicted for obstructing a highway or other passageway by a Harris County grand jury on Wednesday.
In September, 25 people were arrested after they closed the Fred Hartman Bridge and Houston Ship Channel down for several hours. The environmental activists used colorful banners as 11 protesters hung suspended over the Houston Ship Channel. Twelve more protesters acted as spotters on top of the bridge. None of the protesters were from the Houston area, according to authorities.
According to the group, the activists were protesting fossil fuels and initially planned to stay on the bridge for 24 hours.
Although it’s not a felony, the new charge carries a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
“The defendants descended on Houston from around the country to disrupt the port in a publicity stunt, but what they did was endanger first responders, cost taxpayers $420,000, and private business untold millions of dollars,” Harris County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Dane Schiller said.
Prosecutors also dismissed the charges against six boaters who were present during the protest.