CINCINNATI (AP) – The Greenpeace activists charged in an eye-catching protest at Procter & Gamble Co. headquarters in Cincinnati plan to accept a plea agreement, a defense attorney said Thursday.
Seven activists scheduled for trial in January on felony burglary and vandalism charges will plead guilty to criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor, attorney Jay Clark said. Another activist who earlier pleaded guilty to breaking and entering, a low-level felony, will change his plea to trespassing, he said. Charles Long, 35, of Chicago, hadn’t been sentenced yet after his September plea.
The plea agreement would leave the activists facing up to 30 days in jail each, $250 fines, and performing community service in the Cincinnati area, Clark said.
“I can tell you this is reasonable result,” Clark said. “They’ll be able to put all this behind them much quicker.”
A plea hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
The activists, all from out of state, slipped past P&G security March 4 and unfurled large banners from P&G’s two towers, protesting the consumer products giant’s use of palm oil supplies that the Greenpeace organization linked to rainforest destruction. They used zip lines and one wore a tiger suit as the protest was filmed for Greenpeace from a helicopter.
The activists had faced as many as nine years in prison if convicted, besides having felonies on their records.
Greenpeace said the activists were peacefully exercising their right to free speech and were being targeted unfairly with charges that were unreasonably tough. Prosecutors had said regardless of their political message, they committed crimes and caused damage, and forced police, fire and other emergency responders to be called out.
Mark Piepmeier, lead prosecutor on the case, said through the Hamilton County prosecutor’s spokeswoman Thursday evening that Procter & Gamble had asked prosecutors to reconsider the felony charges, and that prosecutors agreed to “honor P&G’s request” and resume plea negotiations.
“In the months since the actions of these defendants at P&G’s premises, we understand that P&G and Greenpeace have begun to work together more collaboratively,” Piepmeier said in his statement.
P&G spokesman Paul Fox said in an email Thursday night, “What’s important is that P&G and Greenpeace are working together to eliminate deforestation in the palm supply chain. In the spirit of collaboration, we recently asked the Prosecutor to re-consider the charges, and we appreciate their decision.”
Greenpeace said it wouldn’t comment yet.
Palm oil is commonly used in shampoo, cosmetics and other products. P&G, maker of global best-selling brands such as Pampers diapers, Tide detergent and Gillette shavers, announced on April 8 a “no-deforestation” policy for its palm oil and said that it was taking steps to ensure traceability of its supplies. Greenpeace praised P&G’s announcement, while saying more work needs to be done to protect rainforests.
A ninth activist who was arrested for the protest died Oct. 6 in California. The cause of death for Tyler David Wilkerson, 27, wasn’t made public.
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