The story is still unfolding about a man who lost his life to police bullets after an act of sabotage that disabled a section of Sabal Trail pipeline construction in Marion County last week, on February 26, 2017.
We know that there will be more to say in the coming days or weeks, as family and friends come forward with stories of James’ life. But we felt a need to acknowledge what has happened while the incident is fresh on peoples’ minds and questions are surfacing around his motivations, the value of the actions he took and the response of law enforcement.
First off, it must be noted that his action effectively disabled recent construction activity in a highly controversial area, mere miles from the crossing of preserves including Pruitt, Halpata Tastanaki and the Marjorie Carr Greenway, with sensitive wetlands and endangered species being impacted. This includes land which survived the decades-long Cross Barge Canal battle, only to be torn up for this pipeline.
Pipeline representatives have indicated that they anticipated getting this section in the ground early this week, but will no longer be able to do so as a result of the damage.
Second, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office has released an updated statement confirming that in the interaction with Marker, “no law enforcement officer was injured or fired at.” But we have not heard any statement from the Sheriff on plans to release dash-cam video footage that would justify their use of deadly force against Marker. While his act may have been destructive to property, there is no evidence of it being physically violent. At this point, the primary element of danger in the situation appears to be in the police decision to initiate a high-speed chase.
And lastly, while few details of Markers life are available publicly, we have learned that he was known by friends as a lover of the Earth and humanity, that he was a military veteran, that he participated in environmental/social advocacy, and that he was a father.
We understand that there are complex feelings among those who have been part of fighting this pipeline, and while we don’t wish to dismiss difficult conversations, we feel that focusing on honoring the sacrifice Marker made to take a stand against this pipeline is of a greater immediate importance than debating the strategy, tactics or morality of his action.
We send our sincere condolences to friends and family of Marker. If there is a public memorial site or event in the future, we will do our best to let folks know about it.