Greenpeace USA proved a point in Baytown on Sept. 12. Note, this is one day past 9/11, a very sensitive date and one that always caused heightened security. It is now apparent it wasn’t the point they planned. What these 20-odd people showed us was we are unprepared for terrorism and the elephant in the room was that bridge. They literally caused a car wreck in morning work traffic to announce their arrival or maybe no one would have known they were there until the sun came up. Sadly, they were already over the rails and doing what they came for when the cops came to investigate the wreck.
Everything about this is wrong from the perspective of the motorist caught up in the hot sun. I speak from experience. Possibly a handful of those trapped in the sun empathized with the protesters. I wanted to cut their ropes for forcing their misguided will on me and mine. Being stuck on our roads is nothing new and every time we have a giant storm, we relive the negative experience, but this, this is different. This was anarchy and because they were not violent, everyone wants to dismiss it as no big deal. The next day, the story had all but been dropped and the criminals released on their own recognizance. Life is supposed to go on as before for us motorists, but now we are all wondering what is next? Are we going to have to have a Pearl Harbor moment to get serious with zealots? I hope not.
Never mind that they are totally bank-rolled by Greenpeace and will most likely continue on the same path somewhere else. A felony rap means nothing to these environmental zealots. In fact, it is a badge of honor. Personally, I relish the idea that I do not have a negative police record. In fact, I have the opposite having taken training with the Baytown PD. For some crazy reason, I like our police and the department and like the way it is ran. I was appalled by Sheriff Gonzalez’s plan to let them finish. What? After 9/11, that is his plan? What this really means is they had no plan.
A precedent has been set with this act of anarchy and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez needs to worry more about our safety than placating a bunch of zealots (or getting votes). How incredibly bizarre was his initial call to let them stay and do what they came for? While I sat in traffic, I confess, I had the same violent thoughts about these danglers as everyone else. When I finally got to the top of the bridge, all the drivers were rubber-necking and the LEO’s were all looking over the rail. We could have used a couple traffic cops to get people moving instead of looking.
That said, I have been involved in fire and team rescue in my career and I am sure those LEO/EMS folks did a crackerjack job given the amount of leadership they had. I am Houston/Baytown proud of these men and women and the LEO’s who did not draw negative attention to Baytown. They deserve kudos for that alone in my opinion. There were certainly plenty of opportunities for us to look like yahoo’s. Now, let’s not let this happen again and if it does, let us react swiftly and professionally with the assurance that the local citizens will support that decision.