Greenpeace activist facing trial dies

Updated at: 10/15/2014 2:53 PM
DAN SEWELL

(AP) CINCINNATI - CINCINNATI (AP) — Greenpeace said Wednesday that one of nine activists charged with felony counts in an eye-catching protest at Procter & Gamble Co. headquarters has died.

Tyler David Wilkerson was 27 when he died Oct. 6. A cause of death was not made public. An Oct. 10 obituary in the Fresno (California) Bee newspaper said he served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq. Greenpeace said family and friends gathered Sunday for a memorial service,

Wilkerson was among eight activists facing trial in Cincinnati on burglary and vandalism charges. The ninth has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of breaking and entering.

To call attention to what they said was P&G's use of palm oil from a supplier tied to rainforest destruction, the activists slipped past the company's security March 4 and used a zip line to unfurl giant banners from P&G's two towers as a helicopter filmed them. One was dressed in a tiger costume.

Wilkerson told WCPO-TV at the time that he was proud to have been part of the protest, saying he "felt it was necessary to take action."

The following month, Procter & Gamble announced it had adopted a "no deforestation" policy for its palm oil supply and would establish traceability of supplies by 2015. Greenpeace called P&G's move a huge step in protecting rainforests.

"It's just a tragedy that he died so young," Wilkerson's attorney Jay Clark said. "He served his country and protected the environment. The world is worse off without him."

Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard said in a statement Wednesday, "We are mourning the passing of a friend who worked alongside many of us for a better world, and whose bravery and service to his community have been an inspiration to all of us."

The trial was recently moved from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 because of a conflict with an unrelated case.

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