Greenpeace sent four green-and-white squad cars labeled "Climate Crime Unit" to the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning, disrupting a field trip for local schoolchildren and provoking a response by D.C. police. Several demonstrators were arrested, but not before they had scaled the Chamber building on H Street, draping it in yellow "crime scene" tape and barking through bullhorns as if participating in a hostage negotiation.
"We're asking the Chamber of Commerce to release our climate policy," said Molly Dorozenski, a Greenpeace official. "This is the scene of the crime."
The Chamber has been in high-profile combat with environmental groups and Democratic leaders in Congress over its opposition to the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House earlier this year. The business lobby says it supports federal regulation of emissions, but sees the policies under consideration in Congress could have an unnecessarily damaging economic impact.
The Chamber was hosting 400 children from a D.C. charter school Thursday morning when the protest began. Chamber staffers said they had to be ushered out of a side entrance because the scene outside the front of the building had become dangerous.
"We welcome constructive discourse on the serious challenge of climate change," said Tita Freeman, the Chamber's vice president for communications. "Now is the time to stop absurd stunts that are a distraction from real solutions and diminish the importance of this issue."
The Hill reported that the protest began around 10 a.m. and that police arrived an hour later. Demonstrators dressed in climbing gear used ladders and grappling hooks to install banners in an X pattern across the front of the building.
Chamber staff described the hourlong demonstration as relaxed; one said he spoke congenially with demonstrators before the police arrived, discussing hobbies and asking them questions about Greenpeace policy positions.
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