Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Are Cops So Interested in “Spring Rising”?/ Judge Dismisses Charges Against 42 Gas Protesters

Why Are Cops So Interested in “Spring Rising”?
Sue Udry , March 20, 2015, In : InTheStreets

The peace movement is back in Washington, DC this week for Spring Rising, four days of “creative resistance; theater, teach-ins; rallies and marches marking the anniversary of the United States’ “shock and awe” attack on Iraq and its invasion and occupation in a completely illegitimate, immoral war.”

The event is sponsored by national and local peace groups including CodePink, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans for Peace. The main event, a march and rally in front of the White House on Saturday is expected to draw a crowd of hundreds, not thousands. Still, law enforcement is keeping a close eye on the event.

On Thursday, the group organized a “People’s Uprising Tour: From Empire and War to Justice with Peace” a bus tour of points of interest in Washington. I joined the group to say a few words when they stopped at the FBI and Department of Justice. I and brought the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s George Friday with me (pictured above).

As you can see from the pictures, it wasn’t a huge crowd. But that didn’t diminish turnout from law enforcement. Shortly after the group arrived at the FBI building (which is protected at every doorway by several armed FBI police), we were joined by more teams of FBI police, including two K-9 units.

Malachy Kilbride, the organizer of the tour told me that the bus was pulled over earlier as it drove to the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon. Even though one of the participants of the tour is the parent of a 9/11 victim, Pentagon police told them they were not allowed to tour the Memorial, and directed them to the Pentagon’s “free speech zone.” Veteran anti-war activists who know their rights, including Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright, were on the bus and unwilling to back down. Eventually they were allowed at the Memorial, but they were prohibited from carrying signs and banners.

Kilbride asked to police if it was standard procedure to stop every tour bus before it entered the Memorial and was told “yes,” even as other tour buses streamed by. It was clear that police were prepared for this particular tour bus, and Sheehan reported to the group that she had been called by police for details about the event (she directed them to the website).

Copyright © 2014 Defending Dissent Foundation

Judge Dismisses Charges Against 42 Gas Protesters
Steven Wishnia , March 25, 2015, In : InTheStreets

UPDATE: Charges were dropped for 11 more Seneca Lake Defenders in Town of Hector Court late in the day on March 25, bringing total dismissals to 53.

Saying he was acting “in the interests of justice,” a local judge in upstate New York on March 18 dismissed all charges against 42 people arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct in protests against expanding natural-gas storage in the area.

“I’m very proud of you. You had a cause and you fought for it to the best of your ability. Congratulations,” Reading Town Justice Raymond Berry told the defendants. “I’ve grown to admire you people.”

The 42 were part of the “We Are Seneca Lake” campaign against the Crestwood Midstream company’s plan to store liquid petroleum gases in salt caverns it owns by the lake’s southern end, in Reading near Watkins Glen. Defense lawyers said Schuyler County prosecutors had agreed to drop charges against the about 100 other people arrested during five months of protests.

The Houston-based company, which “connects energy supply in North America’s premier shale plays with energy demand,” received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last November to expand the amount of methane it stores in the caves from 1.45 billion cubic feet to 2 billion cubic feet. Officials of a company that merged into Crestwood in 2013 have said the caves could hold up to 10 billion cubic feet. Crestwood operates three other storage facilities in New York and Pennsylvania.

The 42 defendants, all from the Finger Lakes region, ranged in age from 20 to 90, with most middle-aged. As they appeared in court, they all read the following statement:

“We only have this planet. We must safeguard it for those who follow. Would that it not be necessary, but sometimes citizens of good conscience must engage in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to protect that sacred trust. As long as Crestwood Midstream Partners, or any other corporate or public or private entity, continues to threaten our way of life by the proven dangerous storage of highly compressed gas in the crumbling caverns at the Salt Point facility, I reserve the right to act as my conscience dictates in order to protect Seneca Lake, its citizens, and the surrounding environment. I reserve all rights to protest further at the Crestwood facility, although it is not my intent at this time to break the law in doing so.”

“This is a big moment in history to have this many cases dismissed in the interests of justice,” defense attorney Sujata Gibson said in a statement. “We’ve seen a sea change in the way the court and the prosecutors have reacted to our cases—from maximum sentences for jail terms for trespassing violations to large-scale offers to support dismissals in the interests of justice. This is a testament to the sincerity and passion of the protesters. They are single mothers, wine makers, business owners, and teachers. Their stories are deeply affecting. I’ve watched Judge Berry and the D.A. become very moved by the willingness of these human beings to make enormous sacrifices.”

The Finger Lakes region is a center of anti-fracking protests in New York, as it sits on top of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale geological formation. Fracking is widespread in the Pennsylvania part of the region, but it has so far not been permitted in New York.

Picture Credit: We Are Seneca Lake facebook page

Copyright © 2014 Defending Dissent Foundation

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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