Pole-sitting protest against pipeline continues after one arrest

By  | 

NARROWS, Va. (WHSV) — Opponents of a planned natural gas pipeline across parts of West Virginia and Virginia have committed to a pole-sitting protest, the latest in demonstrations that prompted one arrest.

The person who was arrested Wednesday at a pipeline protest in Giles County, identified as 22-year-old Rafael Snell-Feikema, is out of jail, following his arraignment in Roanoke federal court Thursday afternoon.

Snell-Feikema is charged with one count of blocking, restricting or otherwise interfering with the use of a road, trail or gate. He was arrested after officers ordered the crowd to disperse.

Pipeline opponents anchored a 50-foot pole in the middle of the forest service road, and stationed a tree-sitter near the top, effectively blocking the passage of vehicles driven by Mountain Valley Pipeline crews.

Early Friday, the pole was still standing and the tree-sitter was still suspended above the road. A group of about 20 others stood guard around the pole.

The woman perched atop the pole passed on this message, through the Facebook group Appalachians Against Pipelines, "The struggle against this pipeline arises from a history of resistance to extraction in Appalachia, and the movements flaring up everywhere against pipelines and other forms of extraction owe the most to the struggles against colonization that never ended. Fires of revolt are catching, they never died, and regardless of what the cops do in the coming days, others will pick up the torch."

This continues in the vein of similar tree-sitting protests in West Virginia, where protesters have entered their 30th day of sitting in two trees along the Mountain Valley Pipeline's proposed route.

Snell-Feikema didn't comment as he walked from the federal building with a friend after the hearing. He'll be back in a couple of weeks to face charges that could bring up to 6 months in custody and a $500 fine.