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Protesters Arrested at Golden Gate Bridge

November 24, 1996|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Environmentalists, including actor Woody Harrelson, were arrested Saturday after scaling the Golden Gate Bridge in a protest to save an entire 60,000-acre ancient redwood grove in Northern California.

As many as nine protesters stormed the bridge about 9 a.m., causing an all-day traffic snarl that delayed motorists, bike riders and hikers.

"I shamelessly and proudly call myself a tree hugger," Harrelson said via cellular phone before he descended from his perch about 200 feet above the bridge traffic.

Though it was not his intent to delay traffic, Harrelson said he did want motorists, bike riders and hikers to take the messages on the protesters' banners home with them.

The largest banner, which measured 70 feet by 35 feet, flapped across the span above the traffic lanes: "Hurwitz, aren't redwoods more precious than gold?"

It was a personal message to Texas businessman Charles Hurwitz, whose Pacific Lumber Co. owns the Headwaters Forest Complex in Humboldt County.

The U.S. government, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), is negotiating to buy 7,500 acres of the grove for $380 million. But the environmentalists, from Earth First! and other groups, say that's not enough.

"When a tree gets to be a thousand years old, when a tree gets to be two thousand years old, like these ancient redwoods are . . . wouldn't you stop and think that maybe they're more sacred than money?" asked Harrelson, who received mountain climbing training before making the climb.

"Most people think the Headwaters Forest has already been saved. But they need to understand the truth of the deal," said protester Celia Alario .

Harrelson, who resides in Costa Rica, first came to prominence as the dimwitted bartender in the popular television show "Cheers."

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