Pipeline protestors press Bellingham to drop ties to U.S. Bank; face charges over I-5 blockade

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

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BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Bellingham resident Alice Clark was asked what she thought of the blockade activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline staged for more than an hour on I-5 at the Lakeway Drive exit on Saturday.

"There's a lot of people in line in their cars idling, using gas, wondering what the hell's going on," she said.

The protest created a miles-long backup and, said Washington State Patrol, contributed to a five-vehicle pileup. That included a van which rolled over and trapped two people inside.

A woman in her 60s was taken to a local hospital.

"I just think that's the wrong method," Clark said. "And it also just empowers people who are against the whole thing to say look at those crazy people."

The protestors' decision to block a major interstate in the middle of a weekend day also caught the Washington State Patrol off guard.

It took three troopers an hour to get to the scene

to force the protestors off the freeway.

They had to call in Bellingham police to handle the injury accident some three miles south on I-5.

Now the protestors are turning their sights to US Bank which provides financial services for the city of Bellingham.

"Yes, we have significant holdings in US Bank," said Bellingham City Council president Michael Lilliquist.

But says he isn't persuaded the bank should be a target.

"There are 17 banks that are identified as direct investors" in the Dakota Access Pipeline, Lilliquist said.

"US Bank has extended a line of credit to one of the development companies. I believe it's called Energy Transfers LP. But Energy Transfers LP is several steps removed from the Dakota Access Pipeline."

No bill has been introduced in the city council to end its relationship with US Bank.

As for the I-5 blockade Saturday, Washington State Patrol said Monday they have identified five drivers who led the blockade.

They plan to ask the Whatcom County prosecutor to file criminal charges against them.