It’s okay to protest something you believe in. In fact, the right to peacefully assemble is one of the fundamental rights of Americans. But many recent protests have safety officials worried about the consequences of going too far. Yesterday’s article by Certified Safety Professional Dan Hannan addresses some of the safety concerns associated with such activity at the sites of oil wells and pipelines. It’s easy to see how some protests have potential to go very wrong.
In Florida, one protest could have had grave consequences for the couple fighting against the construction of a Spectra Energy pipeline that will run through Alabama, Georgia, and down to Central Florida. At the site of the Sabal Trail pipeline, Marion County deputies arrested two protesters who they say climbed 250 feet deep inside a section of the pipeline, reported Orlando Weekly. Karrie Kay Ford, 29, and Nicholas Segal-Wright, 25, allegedly lodged themselves inside a piece of the pipeline around 7:32 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
In a statement, the protesters said:
We are taking action against the Sabal Trail pipeline because we don’t need more energy infrastructure poisoning this land. The world and our future generations are at risk, so we are demanding the immediate halt to this toxic project.
While both the protesters were found by paramedics to be in good health after they were removed from the pipeline, the situation was potentially very dangerous. In response, Andrea Grover, a pipeline spokesperson, said:
We continue to implore peaceful protesters not to place themselves in an unsafe situation.
Not only did Ford and Segal-Wright engage in behavior that put themselves in danger, but first responders and other personnel were also put in danger and took them away from other critical duties elsewhere.
Orlando Weekly notes that both Segal-Wright and Ford are accused of felony charges, including grand theft between $20,000 to $100,000, trespassing on a posted construction site and criminal mischief. Ford was additionally charged with resisting without violence for refusing to take a device off her arm that briefly stopped deputies from arresting her.