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Friday, August 08, 2003

Talk about funny!

Federal security forces on hand for Greenpeace visit

The Associated Press

KETCHIKAN (August 8, 3:35 p.m. ADT) - Six members of the Federal Protective Service are on duty here for a visit by the environmental group Greenpeace.

The officers, dressed in black tactical uniforms, work in shifts, with two officers on duty at all times to protect the Federal Building, said Officer Katherine Maxey.

The six officers were pulled together for the assignment from posts in Vancouver, Wash., Anchorage and Seattle, Maxey told the Ketchikan Daily News. If the Greenpeace ship Esperanza moves to Juneau, or another city containing federal property to protect, the officers also will move, she said.

Maxey said the officers' mission, as explained to her, is: "just to assure nothing goes wrong, given that Greenpeace is here and given the history of Greenpeace."

She said she and fellow Officer K.C. Gardner were enjoying Ketchikan's warm weather and the view of salmon jumping in Thomas Basin while they patrolled the Federal Building parking lot.

The little-known Federal Protective Service, formerly a unit of the General Services Administration, has been transferred to the Homeland Security Department, Maxey said.

Melanie Duchin, a Greenpeace campaign coordinator aboard the Esperanza, called the federal agency's presence in Ketchikan excessive.

"I think it's a waste of taxpayers' dollars," Duchin said. "And those security officers could be used on a real security issue in Ketchikan."

Duchin acknowledged that Greenpeace has at times performed acts of civil disobedience, but said more than 99 percent of its activities are legal.

"We have no plans to disrupt anything here in Ketchikan," Duchin said.

Greenpeace is in Ketchikan this week as part of a trip through Southeast Alaska to protest logging in the Tongass National Forest.

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