Three Arrested at Pipeline Protests in Sandisfield
SANDISFIELD, Mass. — Three people, including a Lenox man, were arrested on Wednesday at the site of the Tennessee Gas pipeline project by state police. A Connecticut man, whom troopers say tried to flee, was tased.
Two were arrested for refusing orders to move out of the way of construction vehicles and the third for allegedly assaulting two troopers who attempted to apprehend him after he trespassed on private property.
Max S. Bambery, 31, of Lenox, and Priscilla A. Lynch, 65, of Conway, were charged with disorderly conduct.
Jacob Renner, 24, of Sharon, Conn., was charged with two counts of assault and battery on a police office and single counts of trespassing, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
There have been constant protests and numerous arrests made at the site of the 3.8-mile pipeline expansion through Otis State Forest. Called the Connecticut Expansion Project, this section and quarter-mile piece in New York State will hook into another 8 miles in Hampden County and Connecticut. The company was given the go-ahead this week to begin flowing natural gas through the line.
According to state police, Renner and another moan trespassed onto 114 South Beech Plain Road at approximately 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The private property is near the project site that state police say was clearly marked "No Trespassing." The owner of the property has previously made clear that he does not want protestors on his property.
When asked to leave the property by a private security officer, Renner and the other man refused to do so. Troopers responded to the location and observed the men walking down the driveway on the property, behind the "No Trespassing" signs.
Troopers observed that Renner had his hands in his pockets and say he refused to show his hands despite being asked to do so several times, raising concerns that he may have had a weapon. A trooper then instructed another trooper at the scene to place Renner under arrest, at which point Renner began running along South Beech Plain Road. When troopers ran after him and attempted to cut him off, he shoved two of them, knocking one off balance and the other to the ground, and then continued to struggle with them in an attempt to get free.
A trooper drew his issued electronic control weapon and, as Renner continued to struggle, deployed one set of probes into the suspect's back and buttocks in accordance with departmental policy. The deployment of the probes momentarily ended the struggle, but after several seconds the suspect regained mobility, pulled the probes free, and continued to struggle.
Troopers then got the suspect under control and placed him in custody. During a search of Renner, a trooper located a knife on his belt. Renner initially refused to give his name and date of birth despite several requests to do so. He was evaluated by an ambulance crew and refused treatment. After being transported to the Berkshire County House of Corrections for processing, Renner was read his Miranda rights. He continued to refuse to provide his identity for several hours.
The other man who had trespassed onto the property with Renner fled into the woods and was not located.
At approximately 1:50 p.m., troopers responded to South Beech Plain Road near the project site where 30 to 40 protesters were blocking the road, shouting, and chanting. The protesters were blocking the path of a large, heavy-load dump truck. A trooper in her cruiser attempted to escort the truck through the protestors. Many of them moved out of the way, but several of them – some dressed in black robes and white masks – cut between the cruiser and the truck.
The trooper got out of her cruiser and asked these protestors to move out of the road, and they all refused. The trooper believed these protestors were putting themselves in danger given their proximity to the huge Euclid model dump truck.
Other state police personnel responded and instructed the protestors to allow vehicles to move freely on the road, and noted that if they did not do so, they risked being arrested. Eventually, most protestors walked out of the road, but Bambery and Lynch refused to do so and were arrested. They were also brought to the Berkshire County jail, advised of their Miranda rights, and booked.
All three defendants had court appearances today.