Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"People over Pipelines!"

   I'm reporting on two recent occasions when I joined protests against Spectra Energy's natural gas pipelines being constructed locally.
   On June 23 I joined the group fighting the pipeline in West Roxbury. Neighbors and environmentalists have exhausted legal recourse, but the movement is still growing. Now the cry is, "Shut it down, or the people will!"
   We gathered in bright morning sunshine in a nearby clearing. Those choosing to get arrested grouped separately for instructions. Signs ranged from "Keep it in the Ground!" to cardboard flames. Then we all marched to the construction site, located in the middle of a pretty street lined with houses. (Besides adding to climate change by providing more gas to burn, this pipeline is located very near a quarry where dynamite is blasted.) Bulldozers and concrete mixers, some ten workers and as many cops awaited us. We numbered about 90 folks. Two by two, those aiming for arrest ran past barriers to sit on the edge of the trench being dug. The paddy wagon pulled up and they were handcuffed and loaded in, all of us cheering them on.
   Once in a while the workers started pouring concrete again, but they kept having to stop, and stood around looking bewildered. The cops all acted kind of tired: this was so routine; everyone on both sides knew all the moves. I believe that the arrests that day totaled 46. My feelings were anger, pride, and gratitude at sharing in this vital effort.
  On July 18 I joined the protesters who had just spent days marching 43 miles through the towns where Spectra is installing the pipeline. We met at the State House in Boston. As we lined the street, two trucks hired by Spectra kept driving by flashing signs saying gas makes jobs. Of course we jeered them. Then we filed into the State House--all 400 of us--to rally, the Grand Staircase jammed with our shining faces. Two legislators joined the speakers, emphasizing that even our Attorney General says "we don't need this gas."
   Especially targeted was the pipeline tax. Unbelievably, taxpayers are expected to pay for the construction, in a fee added to their electric bills.
   After the rally, delegates visited legislators' offices, and then all of us headed towards Gov. Baker's office. As we often chant, "This is what democracy looks like."