Jungle Bird freed after Nationals Park protest, night in jail


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Despite being clotheslined by a Nationals Park security guard and spending the night in a D.C. jail, environmental activist and sporting event videobomber Andrew Dudley, otherwise known as Jungle Bird, doesn’t have any regrets about running around the bases during the ninth inning of Friday’s Nationals-Mets game.

“No, never,” Dudley told me Sunday night after all charges against him were dropped. “It’s something that I have a passion to do. I hadn’t done it at a baseball game, so a home run was definitely in the cards.”

Dudley, who most famously interrupted the trophy presentation at the 2012 U.S. Open, said his new goal is to videobomb 100 live events around the world as part of a “Where’s Waldo?-type campaign” to raise awareness about deforestation, reforestation and climate change.

“People will begin to recognize who I am and what I stand for,” said Dudley, who splits his time between San Francisco and Liverpool, England. “It’s like civil disobedience, the thing that Martin Luther King Jr. used. You look for the most effective way that’s within most parameters of the law. You have to do what you have to do.”

Videobombing Friday’s baseball game wasn’t the only reason for Dudley’s trip to the District last week. He told me he met with representatives from the U.S. State Department about the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which promotes the conservation and sustainable management of the Congo Basin forest ecosystems, as well as leaders at the World Resources Institute, which launched a satellite mapping project called Global Forest Watch in February that helps detect illegal deforestation.

Dudley explained his cause during a phone interview on Friday afternoon about his collaboration with Herndon-based Mascot Books, which is publishing a children’s book about deforestation featuring illustrations of Jungle Bird later this year.

“As a father of six children I’m concerned about saving the planet,” Dudley said. “In the face of climate change, I asked what is it that I can do? One thing I can do is make a bird call and do some videobombing. Too many activists are very reactionary. With my form of protest, it’s light-hearted and it’s using humor. It’s really connected people of all age groups.”

In keeping with the the code of ethics that govern his protests and is posted on his Web site, Dudley says he was completely sober for Friday’s run around the bases. I watched a couple of innings of the game with Dudley and he wasn’t drinking. After surveying the scene from his seats along the first base line, he told me he wasn’t planning to protest, but he changed his mind after it started to rain and his section cleared out later in the game.

“It’s a very, very fine line that I walk, not interrupting live play,” said Dudley, who won’t limit his future videobombs to sporting events. “There is a serious aspect to what I do and it just takes time to counter the misconceptions.”

After he was tackled at home plate, Dudley said the police warned him that the jails in D.C. are some of the worst in the country. While he described the U.S. Marshals he interacted with as pleasant, he said the 18 hours he spent in custody made him think twice about protesting at the World Cup.

“I’m sure the jails in Brazil are worse than that,” he said.

Scott Allen writes about all things DC sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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