Fires and Harassing and Bears, Oh My!

Over the top and unlawful actions by pipeline opponents are finally being handed justice. Multiple times Ellen Gerhart’s tactics ended with her in handcuffs for protesting the Mariner East pipeline, trespassing the pipeline project’s site, and now, for putting pipeline workers in danger by luring animals to the site and starting fires.

Penn Live reported the Commonwealth Court’s action, upholding Judge George Zanic’s six month prison sentence handed and the $2,000 fine down to Gerhart. Gerhart has not yet paid her fine.

“A pipeline security officer testified during Gerhart’s contempt hearing that Gerhart would stand nearby as workers were cutting down trees to force them to stop and would sit on felled logs as workers tried to cut them, the state judge noted. Those and other acts were filmed by the body cameras of Mariner East security officers. Several bears also were filmed going to the bait Gerhart set at the work site.”

A rash of actions by anti-pipeline activists like Gerhart have recently become more and more common in recently. Instead of enacting their constitutionally protected right of peaceful protests, these activists have been targeting pipeline construction workers. A week and a half ago, State Representative Danielle Friel Otten compared construction workers to “Nazis,” following an illegal, staged work stoppage by Chester County activists. On a couple of occastions, the pro-anarchy group, Philly Anti-Capitalist, admitted to illegally sabotaging construction equipment, by, approaching “several excavators and a flat bed truck on an active ME2 construction site in Media, PA and filled their fuel tanks and other liquid receptors with sand and sugar….for maximum damage to the whole machine, and being careful not to spill or leave other traces which would tip off the workers inspecting the machines the following morning.”

Such actions harm are not intended to protest a legally permitted project as much as show disdain and admittedly intend to cause harm to hard-working Pennsylvania workers. In a civil society it is absurd for one person or a group to use such unlawful tactics because their views do not align with another’s.

It is positive that Judge Leavitt upheld the sentence against Gerhart, demonstrating that these illegal actions will not be tolerated.