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Jun 13, 17

Three Water Protectors Arrested as Sabal Trail Resistance Continues

“One cop was agitated and asked why they didn’t “bust out the new toys” on the protesters—including military surplus items like tear gas.”

The sun was beating down as we gathered in Kissimmee, FL on the morning of June 9th to take a stand against the Sabal Trail Pipeline, a 515-mile long, methane-gas snake of tubing that slithers through the southeast so-called United States. What began as a purely symbolic action against Duke Energy and its conspirators in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) at the south-east connection quickly devolved into yet another lesson of the lengths to which the State will go to suppress the type of democratic dissent supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. By the day’s end, three of our comrades were arrested over wholly arbitrary and utterly ambiguous violations of the law, resulting in three misdemeanors.

Gaven Morgan (21) and Samuel Herman (19) were detained and subsequently arrested for wearing bandanas and marching along the side of a public road, scarcely a hundred yards away from the main demonstration. The police, who habitually prey on whoever they perceive as being a weak-link, noticed the two water protectors had split off from the main group and immediately swooped in. Using a dubious and often overturned Florida statute, the cops surrounded the two water protectors and proceeded to intimidate them. Despite giving no sign of physical resistance, they were uncomfortably handcuffed and shoved into a police vehicle. Charged with one second-degree misdemeanor under 286.11, they were promptly bailed out for $250 each and held for ten hours in county jail.

After the action concluded, Kathleen Hernandez (21) was similarly picked off by the cops as she was removing signs from the side of the road by herself. Once more, the cops swarmed her, cuffed her, roughly slammed her against the side of a police SUV, and promptly took her to the county jail. Kaithleen was targeted for her previous work trying to stop the Sabal Trail Pipeline and to defend the Floridan aquifers. On January 16, Kaithleen was arrested for physically chaining herself to a construction truck along with one other water protector. Kaithleen was notified that there was warrant out for her arrest due to a violation of her probation, despite the fact that she was inside her home county. Once again, we moved quickly to ensure her $2,500 bail was posted, and she was held for twelve hours.

While incarcerated, Gaven and Sam overheard the cops bragging about the arrests to their fellow officers. One cop was agitated and asked why they didn’t “bust out the new toys” on the protesters—including military surplus items like tear gas. The elation with which the officers discussed these weapons and tactics is further indication of the way military-culture has continued to infect even the most mundane police forces in this country. Neither Sam, Gaven, or Kaithleen were read their Miranda Rights.

A number of water protectors remained at the Osceola County Jail for several hours to demonstrate our support for our courageous comrades who were consciously targeted while they were separated from the main body of our group. Since Friday, all water protectors have been released on bail.

Mni Wiconi.

Water is Life.

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