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3 Arrested After Large Sawmill Protest

seneca-protestEUGENE, Ore. — Three people were arrested Monday morning after a large protest at the Seneca Sawmill Company in Eugene.

Nearly 100 protestors from the activist groups, Cascadia Forest Defenders and Earth First!, took part in the demonstration around 10:30 a.m.

Organizers say their goal was to draw attention to what they consider to be a disregard of the health of people living in West Eugene.

“Pollution generated by this plant hurts people in the vicinity of this plant,” said Cordelia Finley, spokesperson for Cascadia Forest Defenders. “It has very obvious and very tangible consequences in the lives of people who live in Eugene.”

Activists say they’re also upset about Seneca’s privatization of land in Elliott State Forest in Coos County.

According to the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, two protestors locked themselves to equipment at the mill, while others blocked the road and the entrances into the business.

Deputies say the activists also tried to force their way into the business, while employees attempted to close the gates.

Enid Road between Prairie Road and Highway 99 was shut down while Lane County deputies, along with Oregon State Police and Eugene Police officers responded to the scene. The biomass plant reopened shortly around 1:00 p.m. after the protestors left.

The general manager of the Seneca Jones Timber Company, Todd Payne, called Monday’s protest a reckless act by a group of radical activists that put people at the risk of injury. Deputies say no one was injured.

Two of the protestors arrested, Richard Hayley and Benjamin Jones, face several charges including burglary, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. The third, Chad Kemp, faces charges of criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct.

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