Pipeline protester who chained himself to excavator charged

Photo: WDBJ7
Photo: WDBJ7(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 12:44 PM EDT
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A Blacksburg man is facing two misdemeanor charges after locking himself to a piece of heavy equipment in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The latest protest against the controversial project started early Friday morning at a work site off Bradshaw Road, when Michael James-Deramo climbed onto an excavator and chained himself to it.

He was there for six and a half hours, before he agreed to come down.

A spokesperson for the Virginia State Police released the following statement Friday afternoon.

State police spent several hours trying to negotiate the surrender of a male subject who had secured himself to an excavator at the pipeline work site in the 3000 block of Bradshaw Road." State police notified the individual that warrants for his arrest had been obtained and requested that he come down off the excavator. He complied and released himself from the 'sleeping dragon' device he was using to secure himself to the construction equipment. With the assistance of two troopers and a mechanical lift, he was lowered to the ground. Medical assistance was offered to him, but he denied any injury and refused treatment.

Virginia State Police used a mechanized lift to remove James-Deramo.

Police charged him with two misdemeanors: entering the property of another for the purpose of damaging it, and breaking, injuring, defacing, destroying or preventing the operation of a vehicle, aircraft or boat.

The 300-mile natural gas pipeline is being built in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. It has used eminent domain to acquire project space.

The Blacksburg resident, in a statement released by the organization Appalachians Against Pipelines, says he has "watched as this pipeline has wreaked havoc" on the land and people's lives.

According to

, authorities in Virginia and West Virginia have charged about 40 people who have attempted to block construction since work began last year.