Activists bring pipeline protest to downtown Northampton

By Sarah Robertson, Daily Hampshire Gazette
October 24, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — As part of a global, weeklong anti-pipeline push called “Divest the Globe,” a group of indigenous water protectors and local activists gathered outside the TD Bank downtown Tuesday afternoon to urge divestment from the bank and from fossil fuels.

“We are putting pressure on the banks financing these illegal pipelines,” said 31-year-old Jerica “Mountain Lion” Meditz, one of the group of approximately 20 protesters.

Referring to the Connecticut Expansion natural gas pipeline project through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield, she said, “The Kinder Morgan pipeline is not approved by the state, and it is being federally pushed through protected state forests, sacred sites of indigenous peoples, wetlands and vernal pools, and not following regulations and destroying the area.”

The action is part of a worldwide “Divest the Globe” movement organized after the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota. In western Massachusetts, members of the Sugar Shack Alliance partnered with the group We Are the Earth’s Resistance, identified by the acronym, “W.A.T.E.R.” to organize a week of direct action protests to recognize the movement.

“The Sugar Shack Alliance is a nonviolent direct action group opposing fossil fuel overbuild in our region and advocating for clean energy,” member Irvine Sobelman of Northampton said.

As a retired registered nurse, Sobelman describes herself as a “full-time lover of the Earth” and “organizer on behalf of the Earth and future generations.” She was working as the event’s “police liaison.”

“I interface between the police officers and the participants in the action,” Sobelman said. “It’s a part of classic, nonviolent direct action protests. Some actions have peacekeepers. As a police liaison, we don’t have specific training for it, but the skills required would be listening, patience, communication, and respect.”

According to Meditz, most members of the W.A.T.E.R activist group lived and met at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota during the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“We are water protectors, and we are committed to stopping the pipeline,” she said.

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