EUGENE, Ore. — Three people are in the Lane County jail Monday, accused of trespassing during a protest earlier at the Seneca Sawmill Company.
Eugene police blocked off a stretch East Enid Road off Highway 99 North. The protestors marched outside the Seneca Sawmill Company singing songs, chanting, and making sure their voices were heard over their concerns, regarding what they feel is wrongdoing on the company’s part.
Activists with the Cascadia Forest Defenders assembled outside the Seneca Jones biomass plant Monday morning, ready to be heard on two issues they consider crucial.
“The purpose of this demonstration, both on the outside and on the inside, is to confront Seneca Jones and respond to Seneca Jones’ disregard to the health of the people living in west Eugene,” said Cordelia Finley with Cascadia Forest Protection. “We are also here to confront Seneca Jones’ disregard for Oregonians’ right to using and enjoying public land in the Elliot State Forest, part of which they recently bought and closed to the public so that they could log it.”
“Initially, the mill staff were able to secure the gates, keep the majority of the people. We did contact several people on the property. Three of those were arrested for trespass,” said Byron Trapp, Chief Deputy with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.
Finley says those arrested acted out of bravery but Seneca Sawmill Company’s general manager says what these radical activists did was an illegal, criminal act that put many people in danger, even bringing the bio mass plant to a halt.
“Two of those had locked themselves to structures within the mill and so they had to be removed from the locking devices and so three in custody,” said Trapp.
“Communities are happier and healthier when they’re able to be outside and to be able to enjoy their public lands,” said Finley.
The biomass plant is been back up and running since the protestors cleared out. The company general manager, Todd Payne, says Monday’s protest was a reckless act by a group of radical activists that put many as risk of injury, but he’s thankful law enforcement safely escorted everyone off the property.