Three (3) ‘Mama Bears’ Arrested Protesting the Mariner East 2 Pipeline

by admin on August 26, 2018

Why should our valuable chemicals be exported enmass?

Three ‘Mama Bears’ busted during pipeline rally in Delaware County, PA

From an Article by Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, West Chester, PA, August 25, 2018

MIDDLETOWN >> The Battle of Mariner East 2 continues to heat up. Three “Mama Bears” – local moms who fiercely oppose Sunoco’s pipeline plan – were arrested and led to off to jail in handcuffs early Saturday while protesting the massive Sunoco project near Glenwood Elementary School.

More than two dozen fellow protesters supported the three Mama Bears – two of whom are senior citizens – who sat in the Sunoco right-of-way while holding a “bake sale” or “picnic” on a pleasant morning.

The Mama Bears waited for about an hour, just 300 yards from the school, which is located in what pipeline foes often refer to as the “blast zone.” They were surrounded by dozens of stuffed teddy bears and even handed out homemade cookies.

Police led Abbie Wysor and Barbara Montabana, both of Delaware County, and Ann Dixon, of Philadelphia, to jail after they were ordered by police to dismiss. The three women refused to leave. They were charged with a summary offense, defiant trespass, and released after less than two hours.

The Mama Bear’s lawyer, Tanner Rouse, said the protesters have “tremendous gratitude” for law enforcement. “The state police treated them with great respect,” Rouse said. “These are people who respect the law but the law has left them exposed – with a great risk to the elementary school.”

Protesters were segregated into three categories. They were either, red, yellow or green, depending on the level of risk taken. Almost all the protesters wrote the phone number of legal support, with Sharpie pens, on an arm. The black marks resembled homemade tattoos.

The demonstrators were told by group leaders to carry only basic information, ID, a phone number for an emergency contact, and to leave their cell phones behind and be prepared to list their medications if detained overnight.

The protesters were organized, in part, by Middletown Coalition for Community, the grassroots organization that has been leading the charge against Sunoco’s project, which will transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of volatile gases every day across central Chester County and western Delaware County to a facility in Marcus Hook.

They group said they are promoting safety and showing solidarity in fighting the jailing of grandmother and retired special education teacher Ellen Sue Gerhart, who is serving a two- to six-month sentence, with a $2,000 fine, for fighting pipeline construction on her own property.

The protesters held several signs and banners high. Sentiments displayed included: “We live here;” “Safe schools no pipeline;” “Mama Bear brigade protects our cubs;” and “Revoke the permits.” Several wore T-shirts reading, “Defend what you love.”

As the Mama Bears were led away, with heads bowed, the group sang. “Gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’ and gonna shut this pipeline down,” the demonstrators sang.

Nancy Harkins, of Westtown, asked once again for Gov. Tom Wolf to stop the project. “I’m here because we really want to raise awareness about Ellen and others harmed by this project,” she said. “It’s too dangerous.”

Lora Snyder lives in Edgmont. “I’m here to stand up for our community and our children – at the school in the blast zone – where children would be 600 feet from an explosion is unacceptable,” she said. “We are unwilling guinea pigs in this experiment.”

Spokesperson Eric Friedman noted that there have been two Sunoco pipeline “accidents” near the elementary school, a leak in 1996 and a recent incident in which a work crew from the Aqua Pa. water company struck the non-functioning ME2 line this year. The crew was told the pipeline was buried at 9 feet but they struck the still offline pipeline at 6 feet.

“We realize that Sunoco may feel differently about the safety of children than we Pennsylvanians do,” Friedman said, “It’s disappointing that Gov. Wolf continues to disregard the risk to children and seniors, but the people, in partnership with five impacted municipalities will fill the gap left by his inaction.

A spokesperson for Sunoco Logistics, which is building the multi-billion dollar, 350-mile pipeline that will traverse the width of the state, from the Marcellus Shale regions to Delaware County, did not return a request for comment.

A pipeline risk assessment will be presented by Del Chesco United for Public Safety at Fugett Middle School in West Chester, on Tuesday August 28th, at 7 p.m.

“We look forward to the public presentation this Tuesday of the Citizen’s Risk Assessment that will quantify the size of the blast zone associated with Sunoco’s dangerous proposed export pipeline,” Friedman said.

Also Saturday, 40 protesters waved signs and motorists honked at the corner of Boot Road and Paoli Pike in Chester County.

Demonstrator Jerry McMullen has lived near the site of the Chester County Library and Exton Mall for 43 years. He too is worried about the proposed pipeline’s distance from 40 schools, including SS. Simon and Jude, at 194 feet, and SS. Peter and Paul, at just 7 feet. His bedroom is 32 feet from the 1930s era and already-operating Mariner East 1 pipeline.

Sunoco is either “inept or irresponsible,” McMullen said. “Gov. Wolf has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the safety of our communities and our children.”

Joan Herman also was protesting at Boot and Paoli Pike. “Our neighbors, our children, our safety is being put in danger with this pipeline project,” Herman said. “It’s not safe.

“Sunoco is cutting corners. If this project proceeds as Sunoco has planned, they have to be accountable and safe.”

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