A display put up by the North Olympic Orca Pod at the state Capitol symbolizes the remaining Southern Resident orcas. (Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

A display put up by the North Olympic Orca Pod at the state Capitol symbolizes the remaining Southern Resident orcas. (Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Activists rally for woman on hunger strike to draw attention to plight of orcas

OLYMPIA — Lanni Johnson of Snohomish, a woman determined to fast for 17 days in front of the state capitol building to dramatize the plight of Southern Resident orcas, was joined on Day 12 by other protesters.

The North Olympic Orca Pod, an activist group pushing for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams, on Friday erected a display representing the remaining Southern Resident orcas as well as a “ghost fin” display to symbolize the 35 orcas that have died since 2005.

Only 75 mammals remain of the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, which live in the waters off Port Townsend and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Members of the Palouse Tribe also joined Friday’s protest. They were led by tribal elder Carrie Chapman-Schuster, who said she was forcibly removed from her land in 1959 so that the lower Snake River dams could be built.

Johnson expects to end her fast Wednesday. The length of the fast is to honor Tahlequah, an orca who carried her dead calf for 17 days in 2018.

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This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

Bureau Lanni Johnson, center, and members of the North Olympic Orca Pod protest at the capitol building urging the removal of the four lower Snake River Dams. (Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Bureau Lanni Johnson, center, and members of the North Olympic Orca Pod protest at the capitol building urging the removal of the four lower Snake River Dams. (Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Members of the Palouse Tribe join the protest lead by tribal elder Carrie Chapman-Schuster who said she was removed from her land in 1959 to clear the way for the lower Snake River dams to be built. Lanni Johnson is seated at center. (Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

Members of the Palouse Tribe join the protest lead by tribal elder Carrie Chapman-Schuster who said she was removed from her land in 1959 to clear the way for the lower Snake River dams to be built. Lanni Johnson is seated at center. (Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau)

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