23 protesters arrested after blocking start of construction of Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline on property of nuns

by Ad Crable and Lindsey Blest, Lancaster Online
October 16, 2017

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Police arrested 23 opponents of the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline Monday afternoon after they blocked the movement of a backhoe to prevent the beginning of construction on farmland owned by a Catholic order of nuns in West Hempfield Township.

The protesters, charged with defiant trespass, had vowed to stop heavy equipment from accessing a corn field owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. The protesters held hands and stood in front of the backhoe.

All those arrested are believed to be Lancaster County residents, according to Brett Hambright, spokesperson for the district attorney’s office.

“While any arrest is a matter to be taken seriously, the protesting individuals were extremely cooperative and peaceful in their behavior today,” he said. “Our police officers strived to reciprocate that same level of respect in their dealings with the individuals,” he said.

Police gave protesters until 12:45 p.m. to remove the blockade. When 23 stayed, standing in rows of five, police began arresting them one by one. The protesters were handcuffed and led off without resistance as other anti-pipeline protesters cheered support.

Lancaster Against Pipelines co-founder Mark Clatterbuck said all those arrested stood in solidarity with the nuns.

“The way the system is set up, there is not a way to legally protect our communities and our water and our land from a project like this. And so it comes to civil disobedience where the community says ‘We are not going to let this happen anymore,’ ” Clatterbuck, a Martic Township resident, said.

“We want to expose today that the system has to change. What a shame that a community is charged with trespassing on our own land to keep a harmful project out that we don’t want.”

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