On November 12th, Janet Powers and Brown Pulliam of First Parish Parish Bedford temporarily blocked construction of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. They joined 13 others, including many mothers and grandmothers in disrupting construction. The 750 PSI pipe would carry fracked methane gas – so called natural gas – through a densely populated residential area.
Brown, who is 85, said “I did this because when I look back over my life, my biggest regrets are those moments that called for action – and I didn’t act. I couldn’t sit this one out.”
Citizens successfully halted construction for over an hour. In two distinct waves, people walked across the road and stood next to the trench, forcing construction workers to power down large backhoes and construction equipment. Brown and Janet stood holding hands with other UUs, including Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, musician Matt Meyer, and organizer Evan Seitz. As the police informed them they needed to leave or risk arrest, the group sang: “What would you do with a spectra pipeline” set to the tune “What would you do with a drunken sailor.” and “We Are a Gentle Angry People.”
After twenty five minutes the police came back, cuffed the group with plastic cuffs, and put everyone in a transport van. Riding to the police station in total darkness they sang “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine.” After the song, one person asked to take a moment of reflection. He noted that we would be treated well, but that many people arrested and taken in the darkness of a van had not been treated well. What would they be thinking as they neared a police station, unsure of what awaited them? Could they expect to be treated fairly?
At the station the group was processed quickly and released on their own recognizance.
Reflecting on the action, Janet said “This was my first time engaging in civil disobedience. I could do it because I wasn’t alone. I had Brown and Evan. And because we had passed a congregational resolution, I knew my congregation was behind me.”
Last week First Parish Bedford, passed a congregational resolution, declaring that “we have an inherent right to a livable climate, and that right trumps laws legitimizing the continued extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.” The resolution explicitly states the congregation’s opposition to new fossil fuel infrastructure, and promises to support members who wish to engage in civil disobedience.
For more information on efforts to stop the pipeline, see resistthepipeline.org, or contact Marla Marcum at email@example.com. The resolution can be found here. Evan Seitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org