UPDATE: VSP releases identities of protesters arrested after blocking access to Giles County MPV site using large wooden duck

New River Valley News

UPDATE 8:15 p.m.: Virginia State Police has confirmed the identities of the four individuals arrested earlier Wednesday after spending nearly seven hours hours blocking access to the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County using a large wooden duck.

Those arrested include:

  • Zachariah R. Benevento-Zahner, 22, of Harrisonburg
  • Ethan N. Hughes, 50, (no address available)
  • Dylan V.V. Bremner, 23, of Atlanta, GA
  • Valerie A. Hahn, 52, of Richford, NY

The four individuals face charges of trespassing, obstructing free passage and interfering with property rights.

VSP says they first received a call at 5:32 a.m. on Wednesday, June 2 about several individuals who were causing a disturbance on the Mountain Valley Pipeline right-of-way along Doe Creek Road in Giles County.

When troopers arrived on the scene, they encountered more than a dozen individuals — four of whom had secured themselves through the use of “sleeping dragons,” to an eight-foot tall wooden duck.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m.: Mountain Valley Pipeline Communications officials have released this statement in regards to the actions of the protestors Wednesday.

We condemn the illegal and dangerous tactics of those who put themselves and others at risk through these kinds of criminal acts. Mountain Valley has worked diligently for more than six years to comply with every federal, state and local law and regulation related to the development, construction, and operation of this important infrastructure project. 

While we respect the opinions of those who oppose this pipeline and natural gas infrastructure, we believe there is common ground for all Virginians – and, indeed, all Americans – to reject the kind of attention-seeking, criminal behavior promoted by certain project opponents such as those engaged in today’s activities, which did not hinder MVP’s construction progress.

Natalie A. Cox
Mountain Valley Pipeline

UPDATE 1:35 p.m.: After blockading a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and equipment yard in Pembroke for almost seven hours on Wednesday, Appalachians Against Pipelines says all four “baby duck pipeline protesters” have been arrested.

However, one of the protesters, Zach, has reportedly been released on his own recognizance after being charged with misdemeanor trespassing and interference.

The group also shared a statement from Ethan, a 48-year-old former marine biologist and a father of two young kids, who was one of the protesters locked to the model of a Wood Duck on Wednesday, June 2.

“For Ethan, the Wood Duck placed in the path of the pipeline represents the loss of three billion birds globally since 1979 due to habitat destruction and contamination of their ecosystems,” Appalachians Against Pipelines said in a Facebook post.

“Some areas that the MVP passes through are protected areas for birds. All living beings on this planet have a right to live and thrive. How low must the bird population drop before we say, ‘Enough!’?” Ethan said. “This is a pivotal moment for all of us. It is all of our responsibility to do all that we can to protect what we love. Yes, it takes sacrifice, but it is meaningful to know that I am giving up something of lesser value for something of greater value.”

UPDATE 12:18 p.m.: The final two protesters have been removed from the large wooden duck and detached from each other without injury. At this time, all four protesters who set up the blockade at the Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Giles County Wednesday have been taken into police custody.

UPDATE 11:44 a.m.: One of the three protesters cut away from a large wooden duck blocking access to a Giles County site for the Mountain Valley Pipeline has been taken into custody by Virginia State Police, but authorities are still working to separate the other two.

UPDATE 11:23 a.m.: The three remaining protesters who locked themselves to a large wooden duck to block access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Giles County Wednesday morning have been cut away from the duck.

However, those three protesters are still attached to each other, so they are laying on a tarp while state troopers try to separate them from each other.

UPDATE 8:40 a.m.: One of the four protesters using a large wooden duck to block the pathway to a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Giles County has been taken into custody Wednesday morning, but the other three who have locked themselves to the duck are continuing with the blockade.

UPDATE 7:15 a.m.: Appalachians Against Pipelines says four protesters have reportedly dressed as baby Wood Ducks and are using a 12’ by 8’ wooden model of a duck to block access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and worksite in Giles County Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, about a dozen people have reportedly gathered nearby to support the action.

Appalachians Against Pipelines shared the following statements from two of the people locked to the wooden Wood Duck model:

“I am here with my daughter so that she knows there are regular people who care enough about her future that they will try to stop this senseless construction—construction that citizens don’t want, the owners themselves can’t pay for, and that even investors know no longer makes sense.”

Valerie, a protester locked to a wooden model of a Wood Duck at a Mountain Valley Pipeline blockade in Pembroke

“We are nature protecting itself. We don’t know what a post-fossil fuel world will look like but clutching onto doomed pipeline projects won’t help any. With guidance from Indigenous leadership who have been fighting extractivism for centuries, along with curiosity and compassion, we will find a way. We’re all in this together.”

Dylan, a protester locked to a wooden model of a Wood Duck at a Mountain Valley Pipeline blockade in Pembroke

GILES COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Protesters are once again blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Giles County, this time by chaining themselves to a large wooden duck, according to “Appalachians Against Pipelines.”

The group says the blockade is set up in Pembroke, next to the pipeline easement, in order to prevent MVP vehicles and personnel from accessing the construction site.

The blockade reportedly consists of a large wooden version of a Wood Duck, with three people locked to the duck and another person sitting on top of it.

This marks at least the fourth pipeline protest involving Appalachians Against Pipelines in Giles County in less than two months.

WFXR News has a crew on the way to the scene at this time.

This is a developing story.

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