UPDATE: Appalachians Against Pipelines says protester out of jail after locking self in vehicle, blocking access to MVP site in Giles County

New River Valley News

UPDATE 5:35 a.m. 5/19/21: On Tuesday night, Appalachians Against Pipelines announced the protester arrested after blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Giles County for more than five hours was out of jail.

According to a Facebook post from the group shortly after 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, “Max” — identified by Virginia State Police as Sydney M. Browning of West Virginia — was charged with four misdemeanors and three traffic violations after locking herself inside a vehicle and preventing personnel from accessing a pipeline easement and equipment yard for hours.

Appalachians Against Pipelines says Max’s bail was set at $2,500, but Max has already been bailed out.

Meanwhile, a representative for Mountain Valley Pipeline issued the following statement on Tuesday morning in response to the protester’s actions in Giles County:

Construction activities are continuing while law enforcement authorities deal with individuals who are trespassing. We condemn the illegal and dangerous tactics of those who put themselves and others at risk through these kinds of criminal acts. 

While we respect the opinions of those who oppose the MVP project and natural gas infrastructure in general, there is no excuse for the unlawful actions taken by these activists. 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 these types of activities. 


UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Virginia State Police have confirmed the identity of the person who locked themselves inside of a vehicle that blocked access to the construction site for Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County on Wednesday.

VSP says 28-year-old Sydney M. Browning of Whitesville, W.Va., was the person who locked herself the vehicle.

Appalachians Against Pipelines indicated that the person was identified as “Max.”

Troopers say that at approximately 5:40 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18, they received a call from pipeline security regarding a group of nearly a dozen individuals who were on private property on Doe Creek Road, approximately a mile and a half from Route 460 in Giles County.

Pipeline officials reported the people were blocking the right-of-way and a 2000 Isuzu Rodeo had been intentionally disabled on the roadway to not allow access into the site.

Virginia State Police say a specially-trained team arrived to remove the rebar that was welded to the vehicle so that Browning could be safely removed.

EMS crews were on-scene as the extraction took place, which is a standard procedure. Authorities indicated that Browning had no injuries and she was taken into custody to appear before a Giles County Magistrate.

Browning’s charges include trespassing, obstruction of justice, interfering with the property rights of another, obstructing free passage, operating an uninsured vehicle, and coasting a vehicle. She was also cited for not having the vehicle properly registered.


UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: Appalachians Against Pipelines have released additional information surrounding the protester who locked themselves in a vehicle that blocked access to the Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site in Giles County.

According to the group, they say the protester, identified only as Max, blocked access to the easement and equipment yard for five-and-a-half hours.

“Max” was arrested and charged with four misdemeanors and three traffic violations, according to the group who says this is information is from the arresting officer.

Bail has been set at $2,500. As of 4 p.m., this person was still in custody.

“Often, when people who fight extraction talk about the world ahead, we talk about it in terms of the coming apocalypse caused by catastrophic climate change,” said Max, through Appalachians Against Pipelines. “There is no doubt that unchallenged extraction and consumption are pushing our ecosystems to the brink. Corporations, MVP included, and the so-called leaders that enable and protect them are the answer to that question painted on this blockade, ‘Who killed the world?'”

The vehicle blockade was said to be directly adjacent to the Mountain Valley Pipeline easement, and prevented workers from accessing both the easement and equipment at the site.


UPDATE 11:26 a.m.: The protester who has been locked inside a vehicle in Giles County and blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site for more than five hours is now in custody.

WFXR News is still working to find out the identity of the protester, as well as the charges the protester will be facing.


UPDATE 10:46 a.m.: Appalachians Against Pipelines says a tow truck has been called to Giles County, where a protester is locked inside a vehicle in order to block access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and construction site Tuesday morning.

The protester — identified by the group as Max — has been inside the vehicle since 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday and preventing personnel from accessing the work site since 6 a.m.

Appalachians Against Pipelines announced MVP called the tow truck to the scene shortly before 9 a.m. on Tuesday, but the group says trying to tow the vehicle with Max locked inside could leave Max seriously injured.


UPDATE 7:42 a.m.: Virginia State Police and Mountain Valley Pipeline security are working to remove a protester locked to a broken down vehicle, blocking access to a pipeline construction site in Giles County Tuesday morning.

Authorities have established a barrier and are treating the area as a crime scene.

WFXR News is working to learn the identity of the person inside the car, as well as potential charges they may face.

However, Appalachians Against Pipelines posted on their Facebook page just after 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18 a statement from Max, who is reportedly the person locked inside the vehicle:

“A friend of mine, when asked why we keep fighting even when the odds against us are so high, said, ‘We fight because that is what we do.’ I know this seems like a circular argument, but there’s truth to what they said, at least for me. I can see no other response to MVP destroying this land but to fight it, to put myself in the way and stop it, even if only for a little while.

Often, when people who fight extraction talk about the world ahead, we talk about it in terms of the coming apocalypse caused by catastrophic climate change. There is no doubt that unchallenged extraction and consumption are pushing our ecosystems to the brink. Corporations, MVP included, and the so-called leaders that enable and protect them, are the answer to the question painted on this blockade: ‘Who killed the world?’

But the truth is, the end of the world is not new. Indigenous people around the world have faced and continue to face settler colonialism and genocide and have survived. As I sit here in Virginia, Palestinian people are confronting that same colonial violence as bombs fall on apartment buildings and families are forced from their homes.

So that question, ‘Who Killed the World?’ is not the end; it is followed by resistance, by surviving, by decolonization. It feels a little silly and self-aggrandizing to link what I’m doing today to such fierce struggles, but I want to stand in solidarity with all who fight against empire. I want to recognize that, in spite of overwhelming forces arrayed against all of our fights, there is hope, not that we maintain our normal, but that we will build a future together.

That’s a lot of weighty thoughts and big ideas. I’m not the best person to talk about those ideas, but they are in my heart today. The people of Palestine and Colombia are in my heart today. The Indigenous people of occupied Turtle Island are in my heart today. Their fierceness emboldens me to take this risk in the fight against MVP. Hope is not a mistake. Resistance is not a mistake. Imagining our survival is not a mistake. Oh, what a day, what a lovely day.”

The group says more than a dozen people have gathered at the site to support the protester.


PEMBROKE, Va. (WFXR) — In Giles County, “Appalachians Against Pipelines” says there is a blockade in place by a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement, preventing vehicles and personnel from accessing the construction site Tuesday morning.

This blockade by the Pembroke construction site for the Mountain Valley Pipeline consists of a person physically locked inside a broken down vehicle, according to the group.

In addition, there is a public rally at the site that can be seen from the public road, Appalachians Against Pipelines says.

WFXR News has a crew on the way to the scene of this blockade.

This is one of several protests involving Appalachians Against Pipelines over the past month.

Back on April 20, a protester named Alice Elliot locked herself to equipment suspended 20 feet in the air at a pipeline construction site in Giles County.

Less than two weeks later, Thomas Adams — a Montgomery County resident, hydrologist, and elected Director of the Skyline Soil and Water Conservation District —  locked himself to a pipe truck and blockaded a bridge in Giles County at the intersection of Brickyard Road and Gristmill Lane. He was extracted and arrested, along with a woman who attended the support rally.

This is a developing story.

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