Protests of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have intensified as three people have been charged by local and federal law enforcement authorities for facing off against pipeline crews. In what as so far been a series of “peaceful” demonstrations, the Roanoke County Police responded to a call coming from a farm in the Bent Mountain community where a crowd of 15 protesters were interfering with tree-cutting crews along the path of the pipeline.
One of the protesters was charged with interfering with the property rights of Mountain Valley, which is now under the jurisdiction of state and federal law authorities after the approval of the pipeline. Another was arrested on an outstanding charge of providing false information to police during a similar incident two days earlier, according to The Roanoke Times.
Roanoke County Police spokeswoman Amy Whittaker explained the situation was, “civil, with no threats of violence or serious issues.”
One notable protester was also arrested in a separate incident involving the pipeline in Giles County. Freeda Cathcart, who has run two unsuccessful bids for the Roanoke City Council and the Virginia House of Delegates was taken into custody after interfering with U.S. Forest Service authorities in the Jefferson National Forest.
Opponents of the pipeline have been gathering support in the area via two protesters setting up camp in trees and another on top of a utility pole as they attempt to block deforestation that is taking place to provide for the construction of the pipeline.
According to the report, court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Roanoke stated that Cathcart, “actively and physically resisted being handcuffed, ” when she was being escorted away from the pipeline protest site.
Cathcart is at least the fourth person to be charged in connection with protests in the Jefferson National Forest. However, law enforcement officers have been unsuccessful in their attempts to remove the tree-sitters or the woman who, for over a week, has been sitting on a platform suspended from a pole that blocks Pocahontas Road in the area.
Others have been charged with reckless driving, blocking a Forest Service road, and assault.
The reports lists the names and charges of those arrested on Wednesday.
Stephanie Stallings Davis, 37, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was charged with interfering with permitted construction activities. Zakaria Ismael Kronemer, 24, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was charged with providing a false name to police officers.
The protesters are claiming the crews cutting down trees in Mountain Valley are doing so illegally after the March 31 deadline set by officials from federal wildlife protection organizations. Though, the deadline only applied to the trees and foliage defined as habitats for threatened or endangered species of bats, according to Mountain Valley spokeswoman Natalie Cox. She explained that those trees were felled by the March 31 deadline.
“As permitted by law, the [Mountain Valley Pipeline] MVP project team continues to move forward with tree felling in other areas along the route that did not fall under the March 31 restrictions,” Cox reportedly stated.
As the foes of the planned Mountain Valley Pipeline continue their righteous tree-top vigil, they continue to be blind to the fact that their protesting is in clear defiance of the culture that has provided the economic freedoms that allows them to be so comfortable that they can protest the hand that feeds them.