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Fracking protesters at Champlain Bridge are arrested

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Posted on July 9, 2015 |
By Sam Heller Vt Digger



A coalition of social and environmental activist groups on Tuesday conducted a coordinated series of separate protests against fracked natural gas across the Champlain Valley. Nine people were arrested.

In Williston, members of the activist group Rising Tide Vermont handcuffed themselves to construction equipment at 7:30 a.m. to disrupt construction of the Vermont Gas pipeline extension into Addison County. Four people were arrested.

“We need to stop expansion of the fossil fuel economy and demand a rapid and just transition away from the current system based on exploitation,” said Will Bennington, one of the protesters involved in the action.

Later in the day, another group of activists held a 47-minute sit-in on railroad tracks in Ticonderoga, N.Y. This action was intended to mark the second anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic oil-by-rail disaster, during which a train carrying oil exploded and killed 47 people in Québec. Rising Tide Vermont was represented, as were national activist groups including Earth First! and Greenpeace, according to a news release issued by Rising Tide.

After negotiations through a liaison, police on scene agreed to grant the protesters a full 47 minutes on the tracks, but warned that any protesters seen walking on the actual rails themselves would be arrested “without warning.”

“If they want to stay for 47 minutes, I’m not going to bother them,” said one officer who spoke under conditions of anonymity, “but the trains aren’t stopping.”

No arrests were made and no trains were delayed, as none were scheduled to run during the 47-minute interval. Bennington and other protesters characterized the action as a success, saying that their goal was not to delay trains, but to vocalize their opposition to transporting fracked oil by rail and to honor the casualties in Lac Megantic.

ADDISON PROTEST

Meanwhile, members of a group called Trans and/or Women’s Activist Camp, or TWAC, blocked a truck carrying compressed fracked gas from crossing the Crown Point Bridge between Addison and Crown Point, N.Y., and delivering fuel to the International Paper mill. The truck was stopped long enough for one activist, 18-year-old Damien Gabriel of Southwest Ranches, Fla., to handcuff himself to the rear bumper of the rig.

The group also suspended a large sign from the bridge bearing the coalition’s slogan: “Not by truck, not by rail, not by pipeline.”

TWAC member Emily Eck said that environmental issues like hydrofracturing are not distinct from transgender issues and women’s rights issues, as well as issues of class and race.

“All of these systems of oppression are all connected,” she said. “The gas that’s being trucked, or piped, is being fracked on indigenous territory in Alberta (Canada). We see this resource extraction today as an ongoing form of the colonial violence that this country was founded on.”

Traffic across the bridge was reduced to a crawl for a few hours, after which the sign and protesters were removed. Eck, 24, of Burlington and Gabriel were arrested  and cited, along with three other protesters, for disorderly conduct. Also cited to answer disorderly conduct charges in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, on Aug. 31 were Elizabeth C. Catlin, 25, of Greene, Maine; Kara Ann Barndollar, 23, of Miami, Fla.; and Althea R. Redfield, 22, of York, Maine. No one was jailed.

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