Tree sitters continue pipeline protest, as law enforcement officers visit site

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 8:45 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Tree sitters in Montgomery County continued their protest against the Mountain Valley Pipeline Friday, days after a judge ordered them to come down.

Law enforcement officers visited the site near Elliston Friday morning, but so far they haven’t moved in to evict the tree sitters.

Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild were there when law enforcement arrived.

Representatives of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office were the first to roll in around 9:25, with State Police and MVP security close behind.

By 10:15 they were on the ridge, identifying themselves, reiterating the court order and telling the tree sitters they will be removed if they don’t come down.

It was hard to see exactly what was happening on the hillside, but officers used binoculars and a camera to get a closer look at the tree sitters’ aerial blockade.

After issuing an injunction last week, Judge Robert Turk held the tree sitters in contempt of court for failing to leave the property.

He ordered fines of $500 a day for each day they remain.

In a news release this week, Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin said it was his hope the tree sitters would choose to leave on their own, but he said the department will ensure the court order is enforced in due time.

The officers and MVP security spent about two hours on Yellow Finch Lane, before they packed up and drove out of the area, leaving tree sitters and legal observers to wonder when they will return.

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