Three Mountain Valley Pipeline Protesters Arrested In Monroe
Above Photo: A protester sits attached to a piece of equipment at a Mountain Valley Pipeline worksite near Lindside Monday morning. Police eventually freed him and he with the other two protesters were taken to Union, arraigned and released on $1500 cash bond each.
LINDSIDE — Three Massachusetts residents were arrested Monday morning after attaching themselves to equipment to stage a work stoppage on the construction site of a natural gas pipeline road crossing in Monroe County.
Sgt. C.K. McKenzie, with the Union Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, said the protesters were charged with trespassing, obstructing an officer and resisting arrest, all misdemeanors.
Five were initially on the work easement, granted for the Mountain Valley Pipeline that will go under Rt. 219 just east of Lindside.
But two protesters were not attached to anything and left when asked.
“Those folks left and there were no charges,” he said. “They were trespassing and given the opportunity to leave.”
McKenzie said the other three had put their arms around part of the construction equipment on site, then through metal pipes that were wrapped with rope and chicken wire covered with either peanut butter or axle grease, then all encased in duct tape.
Two of the protesters were out of site in the tunnel going under the road and the other was above ground not far from the highway.
Police spent almost two hours freeing the protesters before putting then in handcuffs and taking them to Union for an arraignment.
They were identified as Sydney Patricia White (female), 18, of Somerville, Mass., and Evin Tyler Uger, 21, and Maxwell Harry Shaw, 25, both of Worcester, Mass.
Jeanne Gullette, clerk with the Magistrate Court in Monroe County, said all three were released early Monday afternoon after the $1,500 cash bond set for each of them by Magistrate Frank Basile was posted.
Shaw was attached to the piece of machinery above ground and the other two were in the tunnel.
McKenzie said it was a peaceful protest.
“It was passive resistance,” he said. “There was no use of any force.”
McKenzie also said that no one has permission to be on the easement granted to Mountain Valley Pipeline or to interfere with the work of the crews.
Several State Troopers and deputies with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were on hand to help out and to keep other protesters who had gathered to watch near the road safe.
One of the five protesters who left the scene when asked was Lee Stewart of Loudon County, Va.
“I had no intention of getting arrested,” he said. “I am here just to show support.”
Stewart said a group in Loudon County who “care deeply about what is happening” is building solidarity to stop the pipeline, a 303-mile, $3.5 billion project that will carry fracked natural gas from north central West Virginia to Chatham, Va.
The pipeline runs through both Monroe County and Giles County, Va. Protesters who had been in tree stands in the pipeline’s path on both the Monroe and Giles sides of Peters Mountain recently came down.
Legal battles are still being waged to stop the pipeline, but work started several months ago after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave final approval.
“I believe it can still be stopped,” Stewart said. “Companies always want to make it feel like it’s a done deal.”
Stewart is convinced everyone will eventually see the damage done by pipelines to the environment and water supplies.
“The truth is on our side,” he said. “It’s like David against Goliath.”
The pipeline’s impact on water is of concern to Paula Mann, who was also at the protest on the sidelines filming what was happening.
A lifelong resident of Monroe County, she said the pipeline goes through some property her family owns and she is afraid it will impact her water supply.
“I own an organic dairy goat farm (in the Hans Creek area),” she said, adding that pure water is essential for her business.
Mann said she has always been against the pipeline and admits stopping it is an uphill battle.
“It doesn’t look too good,” she said. “Whether we win or not, we are going to keep fighting.”
The same attitude was expressed by Jill Fisher of Union, who was carrying a protest poster inside a hula hoop, which is about the same diameter (42 inches) of the pipeline.
“I was on my way to work and wanted to know what was going on,” she said. “I had taken the poster to the Farmers Day Parade in Union Saturday so it was still in my car.”
Fisher said she will not give up and does not think it’s a lost cause.
“Hope is all we have,” she said.
Sgt. A.P. Christian with the State Police Princeton Detachment was also on hand to help.
“It’s our job to keep people safe,” he said, adding that everything was peaceful and all law enforcement personnel were professional and courteous.
When officers removed large protest signs from the scene, they were folded and kept intact.
At one point during the morning a drone flew overhead, but no one there could determine who it belonged to.