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Big Oil Now Has Authority to Arrest You for Protesting a Pipeline on Your OWN Property

by Claire Bernish, The Free Thought Project:

If you’re a resident of Huntingdon County unfortunate enough to have your property in the path of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline, you can forget protesting — unless arrest and jail time aren’t an issue for you.

Common Pleas Court Judge George Zanic signed a rare and factious “writ of possession” order last week in favor of Sunoco, which had sought an “emergency measure” to thwart landowners protesting pipeline construction by occupying trees — on their own property.

In short, protesting encroachment of this pipeline on one’s own property will earn an arrest.

We’re seriously looking at going to jail,” Elyse Gerhart told NPR. “I’m not the type of person who lets injustice go unchallenged, and neither is my mother. What we’re doing makes [Sunoco] show their true face.”

NPR’s StateImpact Pennsylvania reports,

“Ellen and Stephen Gerhart in Huntingdon, Pa., along with their daughter Elyse, have become outspoken critics of the pipeline and the use of eminent domain by the company to take possession of land along the 350 mile route.

“Charges against Ellen Gerhart were dropped after she was arrested last year for trespass on her own property. But with this new writ, Sunoco can enlist law enforcement to arrest anyone within the easement, including the actual property owners.”

Sunoco, in no uncertain terms, has garnered the full weight of support via force of the U.S. government against the interests of citizens who have done literally nothing else wrong but have their properties awkwardly situated where Big Oil wants its pipeline to run.

Elyse Gerhart took to the trees in early February with an unknown number of others facing similarly offensive corporate actions, after the unironically monikered Department of Environmental Protection granted permits for Sunoco to begin construction of Mariner East 2.

As the Gerharts’ attempt to stave off the corporo-government’s eminent domain seizure of private property winds its way through courts, Judge Zanic’s order effectively quashes any remnants of effective protest the landowners had at their disposal — rendering moot their objections in favor of Sunoco’s plans to complete its pipeline until court proceedings play out.

Sunoco Logistics, it is imperative to note, completed a long-anticipated merger with Energy Transfer Partners — of Dakota Access Pipeline notoriety — just two days ago.

Given the extreme measures ETP employed against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporting Indigenous and non-Native water protectors from around the globe — who were camped in opposition to DAPL for months near the banks of the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir — the move to usurp law-abiding civilians’ private property hardly comes as a shock.

Indeed, the pompousness of corporate theft of property under the already-contentious governmental program known as eminent domain seems par for the course for Big Oil — particularly now that industry darling, Donald Trump, occupies the White House.

Occupying treetops on their own properties has already led to the sort of disputatious confrontations, albeit on a smaller scale, which brought international scorn to the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. Although charges were ultimately dropped, authorities arrested Ellen Gerhart last year — for trespassing on her own property.

Attorney Rich Raiders is representing the Gerhart family in its challenge of eminent domain, and noted the court’s use of ‘writ of possession’ is “very rare and very unusual.”

Read More @ TheFreeThoughtProject.com

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