This is a follow-up to yesterday’s story about Greenpeace eco-terrorists who were blocking the harbor in Portland in an effort to prevent Shell’s leased icebreaker, the Fennica, from setting out to sea. The primary question I had at the time was how the police had failed to clear the channel and the bridge, allowing normal commerce to resume. By last night, they had indeed addressed the situation, arrests were made and the Fennica is now in open water. Even though it may have taken a while to get their forces in motion, officials arrested numerous people, destroyed their rock climbing equipment and allowed the Fennica passage.

After nearly two days of hanging from the bridge, the dangling protesters were lowered one by one into the river. The protesters said they were cited with criminal trespassing and interfering with a peace officer.

The moment that three protesters were removed, the Fennica began heading towards the St. Johns Bridge. “Kayaktivists” in the Willamette tried to move in front of the boat’s path but crews pushed them away and the ship passed under the bridge just before 6 p.m. PT. It was expected to reach Astoria by 11:50 p.m…

Members of Portland Fire’s high-angle rescue team lowered down from the bridge and cut the ropes connecting the dangling protesters to each other.

Meanwhile, a separate protester from the local environmentalist group Portland Rising Tide locked his neck to the Oregon Slough Railroad Bridge using a bike lock. Crews cut the lock from his neck and took him off the bridge. He was handcuffed and taken into custody.

In addition to the arrests, Greenpeace was being fined $2,500 per hour for each hour the passage remained blocked after they were ordered to disperse. The total fine is estimated to be $17.5K. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to have much of an impact on the group which is heavily funded by liberal interests around the country.

A Greenpeace spokeswoman called the protest a success.

“We found that the blockade was successful,” said Mary Nicol of Greenpeace. “Climate change does present a real threat to everyone globally.”

She said the organization is prepared to accept the financial consequences of the protests. She hopes the protest will spur President Obama to reconsider allowing Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic.

First off, well done to the Portland Police. Apparently the logistics of getting the climbers lowered into the water were more complicated than originally described, as each individual line was tied to the next and the connecting ropes had to be cut before they could be brought down. But even though the ship is out to sea and the eco-terrorists have been arrested, this signals a disturbing trend which law enforcement around the nation needs to be aware of and prepared for.

The organizers are declaring it a “success” even though the ship’s passage was only delayed for roughly half a day. And the lesson that the rest of their fellows around the country will be taking from this is that they’ve found a much more economical way to conduct their “business.” In the past, Greenpeace has launched attacks on, for example, the whaling industry, which required the acquisition, launch and maintenance of ocean going vessels which are tremendously expensive. Losing a ship like that is a huge financial setback. But now they’ve identified a target and struck a blow – limited in effect though it might have been – for almost no money at all. The cost of a few climbing rigs and some plastic kayaks is nothing to Greenpeace and it got them the headlines they crave and the disruption of commerce they seek to achieve, albeit for a limited time. This could be repeated endlessly at ports up and down both coasts.

The solution here is needs to be stiffer penalties and jail time for people engaged in this sort of organized anti-capitalist terrorism. Protest all you like and take full advantage of your first amendment rights, but when you shut down the lanes of commerce intentionally you are going well beyond the bounds of protest and breaking the law. The fines need to be stiffer and the jail terms significantly longer.