Rappelling from Capitol roof gets attention, but for what?
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SALEM, Ore. -- If Ben Jones and four fellow protesters with Cascadia Forest Defenders wanted attention, they got it.
The five were arrested Thursday, Sept. 19 after a protest at the Oregon State Capitol that involved two of them hanging from ropes attached to the top of the building. The group was protesting clear cutting of the Elliott State Forest and wanted to send a message to Gov. John Kitzhaber.
However the questions that came from their protest were mostly centered around security at the Capitol Building.
The protesters gained access to the roof by posing as tourists waking through the building on a capitol tour. Visitors don't need identification to come in, and there aren't security checkpoints once inside.
"The security questions are interesting, as far as free speech and having a place that's open for all Oregonians," Jones said.
Jones was one of those suspended 140 feet in the air unfirling the banner that read: "Kitzhaber's legacy: privatizing the Elliott -- Clearcutting for profit."
"I was surprised that so many people were gathered outside. The banner was clear enough, but I also felt like there was maybe more things we could have said."
After the stunt, everyone under the rotunda was taling about security. Kevin Hayden, head of tours for the State Capitol, said Oregon has one of the most open state capitol buildings in the country.
"We take a great deal of pride in the fact that we are one of the most open capitols and this is the peoples capitol and they can come in and visit and take the tours," said Hayden.
By midday, the roped protesters and three others who helped with the rappelling were arrested, police said. The sign was immediately removed.
"I remember thinking, 'I wonder if Kitzhaber can see this'," said Jones. "Then I remember thinking, 'Oh! its backwards'. It wasn't facing the right direction for his office."
Jones said he's still waiting to hear a response from Kitzhaber on the issue.
"No one had tried to defend the privatization. No one has tried to defend the sale of some of Oregons natural legacy," said Jones.
Our reporters reached out to Gov. Kitzhaber for his take on the protest, but haven't heard back yet.