WASHINGTON (AP) — The morning after President Donald Trump issued orders to delay environmental rules and restart pipeline projects, seven Greenpeace protesters climbed a 270-foot tall construction crane blocks from the White House and unfurled a massive orange and yellow banner with the word, “RESIST.”
The banner encouraging opposition to Trump’s agenda was clearly visible from the grounds of the White House for several hours on Wednesday, and from some angles it appeared to hover over the building. Protesters hoped it would get under his skin.
“There’s nothing that irritates him more than to know he’s not popular and we don’t like him,” one of the protesters, Karen Topakian, told The Associated Press in an interview conducted via FaceTime from high up on the crane.
District of Columbia police took a hands-off approach while the protesters suspended themselves from harnesses and ropes below the crane’s huge arm. Police closed three city blocks to traffic and appeared content to wait until they climbed down to be arrested.
The protesters scaled the crane before dawn at a sprawling construction site that was previously home to The Washington Post. They revealed the banner after 9 a.m. and remained atop the crane into the afternoon before beginning a slow descent.
John Evans, 46, a carpenter who works on the site, said the protesters were clearly experienced climbers, noting that they were moving their legs and shifting positions to maintain their blood circulation.
“Look how organized they are. They have the same equipment that I use every day,” he said. “They’re professionals. Amateurs couldn’t stay up there that long.”
The protest comes a day after Trump signed orders intended to restart construction of two oil pipelines, the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL. Former president Barack Obama halted the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015 and the Army Corps of Engineers blocked the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in December after months of protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which gets drinking water from a reservoir in the pipeline’s path.
Also on Tuesday, Trump’s administration moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules and froze new Environmental Protection Agency contracts and grant awards.
Topakian said the action was intended to protest “all the things he’s promised to do to push our country backwards.”
A few dozen people standing in the streets below took photos, but many just paused briefly before moving on.
David Presgraves, 27, and Victoria Oms, 26, who work nearby in nonprofit communications, said they agreed with the message. Both participated in the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.
“The pipelines have got to stop,” Presgraves said. “There’s no respect for the native people, no respect for the environment.”