Two pipeline opponents arrested in Franklin County

Published: May. 31, 2018 at 8:33 PM EDT
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Two people were arrested Thursday along the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, after a Roanoke federal judge issued a new order and authorized U.S. marshals to enforce it.

Crews have been cutting in the area where tree sitters were protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline just a week ago.

Thursday morning, federal marshals and state troopers were stationed nearby, as heavy equipment cleared the pipeline right of way.

Judge Elizabeth Dillon directed the U.S. Marshals Service to enforce an earlier court order prohibiting interference, and she authorized the marshals to keep people "a reasonable and safe distance" away from any tree-cutting.

The marshals service alleges the two who were arrested Thursday failed to comply with an officer's order.

"What was your reaction, when you heard that people had been arrested here today," we asked pipeline opponent Jammie Hale? "Heartbroken," he told us, "I mean it makes no sense."

We caught up with William Adams and Polly Branch outside the Poff Federal Building after their arraignment.

They said they were on Four Corners Farm to monitor MVP's work. Getting arrested wasn't part of the plan..

"We were not there in protest," Adams told WDBJ7. "We were not there in hate. We were there simply to do the work for our communities, our streams and waterways."

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline released the following statement Thursday evening:

"Based on a recent court order, the U.S. Marshals Service was dispatched to enforce the Court’s prior order to allow for safe tree felling. This ongoing disruption is creating unnecessary safety risks for everyone involved, including law enforcement, security personnel, project workers, and opponents themselves."

More than a dozen people are now facing charges stemming from pipeline protests, or in this case, efforts to monitor the construction.

Some of the first trials are scheduled next week.