Environmental activists who raised a banner at Trump Tower in protest of President Donald Trump’s agenda caused thousands of dollars in damage to the River North skyscraper, according to prosecutors.
Four people appeared Sunday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on felony charges after they were accused of hanging a Greenpeace banner with the words “resist” and “defend” from Trump Tower’s 16th-terrace.
Jeremy Alpert, 43, of the 100 block of South Avenue in Glencoe; Taylor Blevons, 27, of the 600 block of North Martin Lane in Deerfield; Wendy Jennings, 38, of Minneapolis; and David Khoury, 47, of Leslie, Ark., were charged with felony criminal damage to property and misdemeanor reckless conduct.
While some of the defendants appeared to smirk in their mugshots, all four stood stone-faced with their hands behind their backs as assistant state’s attorney Craig Taczy recounted how the group’s 100-by-30-foot banner turned into a “wind sail” forcefully tugging on the railing on the 16th floor terrace.
Alpert and Blevons are accused of going to Trump Tower’s 16th floor terrace to lower nylon ropes to the ground level, where Jennings and Khoury are believed to have dressed as construction workers, with hard hats and safety vests, and used cones to block the walkway, according to Taczy.
The defendants hoisted the banner and tied it to the terrace’s stainless steel railing that has panels with windows.
“As the banner was being raised, the stainless steel railing that held the banner was severely damaged from surrounding winds that made the banner swing in the manner of a wind sail, damaging brackets that held the windows in place,” Taczy said.
Jeremy Alpert, Taylor Blevons, Wendy Jennings and David Khoury were four of six people charged after a Greenpeace banner with the words “resist” and “defend” was hung from Trump Tower on July 7, 2017.
Judge Donald Panarese Jr. allowed the four defendants to be released with electronic monitoring and the out-of-state defendants to travel home and to work. However, Panarese cautioned each they could be tried and sentenced in absence if they don’t return to court.
“Go home, and come back,” Panarese said.
Their next court date is scheduled for Friday. Conditions of their release prohibit them from visiting Trump Tower as well.
Lincoln Square residents Jessica Bryant, 31, and Shirley Sexton, 54, who were also accused of being on the Trump Tower terrace, each face a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct, according to Chicago police. Both are from the 4900 block of North Western Avenue.
A seventh suspect, who was on the walkway during the demonstration, still hasn’t been tracked down or identified by police, Taczy said.
The banner appeared Friday to hang from cables strung from a terrace restaurant and bar in the high-rise along Wabash Avenue, across the river from Wacker Drive, according to police and witnesses.
The word “resist” was in a black arrow pointed at Trump’s name on the building. The word “defend” was over a picture of the Earth.
Greenpeace, a global environmental group, took credit for the banner.
“This action demonstrates that we will not accept the threats that the Trump administration poses to people here and around the world,” the organization said, quoting one of the people who hung the banner.
“Ignoring the science of climate change and removing us from the Paris Climate Agreement is just another indication that the billionaires who have hijacked our democracy are putting the short term profit of corporations over people and the planet,” added the statement from Blevons.
The banner clung to the building as people kayaked on the river and tourists took architecture boat tours, enjoying the sunny weather after a rainy morning.
Around 2:30 p.m. Friday, traffic on the river was halted as the banner was cut down and drifted into the water. People on Wacker cheered, though some groaned they were unable to get selfies with the banner.
At the time, police said five women and two men were arrested and faced possible charges of damage to property and trespassing.