Above Photo: From Itsgoingdown.org
Jackson Phillips, friend of Farmlands Fighting Pipelines and Appalachians Fighting Pipelines reports from the ground in Appalachia on the situation facing tree sitters and local residents fighting against pipelines.
When a young girl got up in a monopod tent with limited food to prevent construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) back in March, she had no idea the movement her action would spark. A 61 year-old woman, “Red” Terry, would soon join the effort by climbing her own tree and making national news as police denied her food and water.
Last Saturday, “Red” Terry told Police at the base of her maple tree that she was running out of food. Law enforcement looked back up at the 61-year old woman in her treehouse and said they would give her what she needed. They gave her stale cookies and a sandwich. Then law enforcement taped a piece of paper to her tree saying, “You should vacate immediately. I am posting a copy of the order on this tree.”
Red Terry has now been in a treehouse in between a maple and oak tree on her property, suspended 30 feet in the air, for twenty-four days. She is part of what is now a 7-person fleet of people in trees blocking construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Peters Mountain is the site of the oldest tree-sit, which is in its 59th day. Two tree-sitters had been there, but one came down early this week. One solitary resistor remains there under 24-hour surveillance.
looks like cops in #Newnan, GA weren’t the only ones that thought it was a good idea to threaten unarmed protestors with assault rifles this weekend. Here’s cops preventing supporters from getting food and water to the monopod blockade against the Mountain Valley Pipeline in VA. pic.twitter.com/m5iVeKxhk4
— The Holler Network (@HollerNetwork) April 23, 2018
Further down the mountain on Pocahontas Rd, a young girl in a monopod tent known as “Nutty” has halted transportation of MVP construction equipment for 29 days. The forest service has prevented local clergy from delivering her food, and arrested three on Monday for attempting the same. Unlike Red, the monopod-sitter has received no food or water from anyone on the ground in the past 20 days.
The most recent tree-sit popped up last Thursday in Franklin County, VA. Three young Virginians are 75 feet up in the air at Little Teel Crossing against legal orders. They have no plans to come down.
Governor Northam is avoiding the entire situation, with little success. As calls continue to pour in from concerned citizens, he either doesn’t know what to do, or would rather stay silent. He has suggested that local police are in control of the situation, but local police don’t even seem to be in agreement as to what the situation is.
Tuesday, Rockingham County Police tweeted, “False claims of PD aiming lights at tree-sitters in Bent Mountain as a sleep deprivation or torture tactic.” However, images, videos, and eyewitness accounts contradict this claim.
In Narrows, VA, up on Pocahontas Rd, the forest service is armed with semi-automatic rifles and are standing firm in their crusade to deny Nutty food, sleep, and water. She is entering her 30th day in the monopod, during 20 of which she has been unable to receive food or water. Law Enforcement have now secured the 125 ft perimeter with police tape, and are shining floodlights at the support camp as well as at Nutty during the night.
ON DAY 26 … 3 supporters were arrested at the monopod blockade in Giles County, VA while attempting a humanitarian delivery of food and water to the sitter #noMVP #resist donate: https://t.co/BeILeCrRnF pic.twitter.com/fDtzHsNbkN
— Appalachians Against Pipelines (@stopthemvp) April 22, 2018
As protesters continue to stay in trees without food or water, the situation is approaching a boiling point. Will the police let the protesters die? Trish McLawhorn has been on the ground on Bent Mountain at Camp W.A.N.G.A providing help for Red and her daughter, and she said something needs to happen now.
“What are Governor Northam and his wife going to do about our situation on the mountain? I shared the Roanoke Times article with Ms. Northam, and she responded ‘Have you guys called 911?’ I explained, well, we are beyond 911, because 911 is sitting 20 feet away from us.” McLawhorn added.
While Red has at least received a small amount of food from the police, the situation on Pocahontas Rd has not included such heartwarming moments.
Police are tampering with the monopod support ropes, carrying semi-automatic weapons, and harassing the support camp, all while depriving Nutty of food and water. They have set fires underneath the monopod, played loud music at nighttime, and continue to shine high-beam lights at Nutty every night between sunset and sunrise.
When Nutty was last spoken with, she didn’t mention coming down as an option.
“We are making it harder for this pipeline, but the police always defend power. Let people know, they should come out here.” Nutty said.