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Greenpeace versus Donald Trump: A brief history

Scotland is the birthplace of golf… and also the birthplace of Donald Trump’s mother.  Trump has been on record saying that golf is his main form of exercise, and so it’s no surprise at all that he owns a swanky golf resort in Scotland.  What may surprise many, is that Trump’s golf resort, the Turnberry resort seems to be losing money. 

“Although Mr. Trump has claimed to have spent at least 200 million pounds, about $264 million, on Turnberry to buy and renovate it since 2014 — a figure that has not been verified independently — the course has yet to turn a profit,” the New York Times reported.      

The New York Times goes on to question the ethics of Trump’s promotion of his failing resort in Scotland, noting that he brought up Turnberry during a NATO summit meeting.  The piece argues that what Trump is doing in his visiting and promotion of Trump properties amounts to so much advertisement paid for by US taxes.  

On the matter of Brexit, The New York Times quoted Trump in 2016, “When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly.”

The main purpose of Trump’s visit to the UK was to discuss trade policy and shore up the special relationship between the UK and the US.  Surrounding the official agenda and golfing was an atmosphere of activism and resistance among the Scottish population. In London, of course there was the now famous baby Trump float.  No Scottish government officials met with Trump during his visit. Rallies were planned all over the country.

One of the most spectacular acts of defiance in my eyes, was a paraglider who broke the law by entering restricted airspace.  The motorized paraglider circled Trump’s Turnberry resort with a banner, making the president break into a trot, apparently to escape.  The paraglider chute was bright yellow and emblazoned with “Greenpeace” in green letters. The banner flying below the paraglider read, ‘Trump: Well Below Par #resist’ The golf pun took me a second to notice but the cheekiness of the act is apparent.  

Scotland now reports they have a man has been charged in the paragliding incident. The only information Scotland has released is the man’s age: 55 years old.  I reached out to Greenpeace for comment; they initially responded quickly but didn’t get back to answer my questions.    

This isn’t the first time Greenpeace has been involved in similar demonstrations.  Fresh from his election, the first time Trump visited New York City as president, Greenpeace was there.  In the Hudson, a river so polluted that fish from it are not suggested for eating, is anchored USS Intrepid.  The USS Intrepid is an aircraft carrier built during World War II, now permanently in the Hudson River. It was on the Intrepid that Trump made his entrance into New York by helicopter.  Protestors stood on the banks of the river, chanting. Greenpeace activists took banners and boarded small boats, getting as close to the USS Intrepid as possible. The banners read, ‘Resist’ and ‘Resiste’.  

Independent reported in July 2017 that a group of Greenpeace protestors at Trump Tower in Chicago, lowered a banner with a picture of the planet and the words, ‘Resist, Defend and Greenpeace’.  The activists were charged with reckless conduct, property damage and trespassing. NBC Chicago quoted Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi as saying:

“Given that the banner was picked up by the wind and caused some property damage, it could have been a large public safety hazard.”

Greenpeace protestors also attempted but failed to take a banner to the 25th floor of the Trump building on 5th avenue in New York City.  

The coordinated protests, the one in Chicago and the failed attempt in NYC were set to protest Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement.  Greenpeace activists also lowered a banner on a bridge in Hamburg Germany when Trump attended the G20 summit.

CNN in Washington reported that in January 2017, just days after the Women’s March on Washington, activists climbed a construction crane near the White House.  The Activists from Greenpeace lowered a 70 foot by 30 foot banner with the word, ‘Resist’ emblazoned on it. Greenpeace activist Cassady Craighill told CNN:

“The purpose for this action today was to really send a message to everybody in this country, similar to the millions that showed up to the women’s march, that are feeling discouraged this week after we’ve seen Donald Trump take steps to advance the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines, issuing gag orders on the press and the EPA and the department of agriculture.”

Reuters reported in July 2017 that Greenpeace protestors projected the words, ‘No Trump Yes Paris’ on a building in Warsaw Poland in green light when the US president visited there.  This message coming shortly after Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Nothing seemed to come of the protest near the Intrepid.  The Greenpeace protestor at Turnberry has been arrested. Many others have been arrested or simply ignored.  Some media attention is garnered by stunts like these but the media quickly moves on. What does it mean to protest and be ignored?

Are these merely publicity stunts or are they protests that are also part of a thoughtful discussion that can move the world toward a better path?  I for one admire the courage and subversive quality of these protests.

At least there are others out there who feel a little less alone because of actions from activists like those with Greenpeace. also highlighted parallels between the Greenpeace protests, and others, including actor Shia LaBeouf who has lead a livestream of protest online for the remainder of Trump’s presidency.  The point Global Citizen is trying to make is that it’s easy to forget that despite Trump’s ascendency, there are plenty who are protesting, resisting and in disapproval of his policies on behalf of planet Earth.       

By Zach Fitzner, Contributing Writer               

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