CINCINNATI – Cincinnati police on Thursday called for a “security summit” of the city’s businesses in the aftermath of a breach at Procter & Gamble Co. headquarters by Greenpeace activists.
Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said it was “a wake-up call” when activists got into P&G’s downtown offices Tuesday and used zip lines to unfurl protest banners from the 12th floor to draw attention to the company’s use of a palm oil supplier Greenpeace says is tied to tropical forest destruction in Indonesia.
A P&G spokeswoman said an activist posing as a businessman on the way to a meeting let the others in. She said security has been tightened since the activists’ “well-planned” protest.
“We take what happened the other day very seriously,” the police chief said. “Greenpeace has very talented people that do what they do all over the world. We’re just fortunate that it was Greenpeace, and they didn’t have nefarious intentions that had any nexus to terrorism or any other harmful act for the citizens of Cincinnati.”
Blackwell said he wants to convene the meeting soon to make sure corporations and hotels have solid security plans.
In the protest, nine activists were arrested on burglary and vandalism charges. They each posted $50,000 bonds Wednesday and were released from jail. The FBI has joined the investigation, and police say more arrests are possible.
P&G spokeswoman Lisa Popyk reiterated in an interview Thursday that the company is committed to 100 per cent sustainable sourcing of its palm oil by 2015, saying it is “on the same side of the issue” as Greenpeace.
Authorities were stunned that the activists were able to carry out their protest from inside a company known for stringent measures to protect both its personnel and innovations in bestselling brands, including Tide detergent and Pampers diapers.
“Our global security team is crackerjack, and they have already taken steps to better secure the area,” Popyk said.
She declined to disclose the changes, and said she didn’t know whether anyone had been disciplined for the security breach. She said the initial investigation indicated an activist claiming to have an appointment and dressed in business attire let in the others through another door. They carried their protest materials, including a tiger costume, in what Popyk called “inconspicuous bags.”
“It was very clever and well-planned,” she said.
She said P&G has surveillance cameras throughout its buildings and was still reviewing them.
In a statement after his release from jail, activist Tyler Sanville, 28, of Santa Cruz, Calif., said the group wanted to get its message out. “That Procter & Gamble is buying palm oil linked to rainforest destruction, which is destroying the habitat of endangered species like orangutans and Sumatran tigers,” he said.
The protest banners targeted P&G’s Head & Shoulders shampoo. Palm oil is commonly used in shampoo, cosmetics and other personal products.
David Ginsburg, president of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., said Thursday that several members of the business organization have expressed interest in reviewing security.
“Something like this happens, and it (security) gets to the front burner,” Ginsburg said.
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