Filed under: Action, Development, Environment, Land, Southeast
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 an anonymous protester climbed up in a monopod tent 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 initially 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.”
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
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. The resister at this site remains under 24-hour surveillance by MVP security and the US Forest Service.
Further down the mountain on Pocahontas Rd, an anonymous protester in a monopod known as “Nutty” has halted transportation of MVP construction equipment for 29 days and counting. The Forest Service has prevented local clergy from delivering her food, and arrested three on Sunday for attempting the same. Unlike Red, the monopod-sitter has received no food or water from anyone on the ground for weeks.
The most recent tree-sit popped up last Thursday in Franklin County, VA. Three pipeline resisters are 75 feet up in the air at Little Teel Crossing.
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.
Trish McLawhorn has been on the ground on Bent Mountain 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?” McLawhorn asks. “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.”
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
While Red has at least received a small amount of food from the police, the situation on Pocahontas Rd has not included such moments.
In Narrows, VA, up on Pocahontas Rd, the Forest Service agents are armed and are standing firm in their surveillance of Nutty and her supporters. She is entering her 30th day in the monopod, during the majority of which she has been unable to receive food or water from supporters on the ground. Law Enforcement have now secured the 125 ft perimeter with police tape, and are shining surveillance lights at the support camp as well as at Nutty during the night.
As protesters continue to stay in trees without resupplies, the situation is approaching a boiling point. Police are tampering with the monopod support ropes, and keeping close watch on the support camp, all while preventing Nutty from receiving resupplies of food and water. They have set fires near the monopod, played loud music at nighttime, and continue to shine surveillance lights at Nutty every night between sunset and sunrise.
“We are making it harder for this pipeline, but the police always defend power. Let people know, they should come out here,” Nutty said.