‘Conestoga 8′ charges downgraded to summary trespass, $100 fines.

At today’s court date, the defiant trespass charges against the ‘Conestoga 8′ were reduced to a $100 fine and summary trespass charge. The ‘Conestoga 8′ are Lancaster residents who were arrested for trespassing on PPL land to shut down a Williams Partners drilling operation, on January 5th.

 

 

They were among a crowd of 40 Lancaster residents who stopped the drilling from occurring. The eight are: Mark Clatterbuck, Jono Droege, Dr. Nancy Jeffries, Nick Martin, Angela Nitchman, Carlos Whitewolf Rivera, Daniele Spagnolo and Benjamin Weiss.

Photos thanks to Michelle Johnsen Photography.

 

[below] The Conestoga 8 wait for their court date.

Conestoga 8 before their court appearance.

 

[below] Defense Attorney Tom Houghton spoke to the Conestoga 8's concern for their communities and families.

Defense Attorney Tom Houghton spoke to the Conestoga 8's passion and concern for their families and communities

 

[Below] Dr. Nancy Jeffries read a statement after the court date on behalf of the group after the court date.

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Dr. Jeffries' statement on behalf of the group:

Williams Partners has invaded our communities, trespassed on our land, and threatened our way of life – all before even filing a permit with FERC. Through our dealings with them for the past year, we have learned a lot. We have learned about Williams’ poor safety record and recent pipeline explosions. We have educated ourselves about the dangers that a 42”, high pressure pipeline impose upon our community. We have learned that the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee is a rubber stamping agency that gives out permits & eminent domain to powerful, private, for-profit companies.

But most importantly, we have learned about the value of a strong community with deep roots.

The 8 of us were arrested, alongside 40 supporters, for protecting Lancaster County land, and for that we are proud. Our county’s rich soil is steeped in a long and prideful legacy of subsistence, heritage, and agriculture. Our pride for our land, our concern for our communities, and our love for Lancaster County is what motivated all of us to act.

The people of Lancaster County have been abandoned by our government officials. Our township supervisors, county officials, and congressional representatives have – time and time again – made the choice to side with corporate interests over their constituents concerns.

Let us make this clear: Because our elected officials will not act to protect our community, homes, and families, we instead are nonviolently acting to protect the places and people that we love.

So, yes, we will continue to act in protection of our communities, alongside the scores of other Lancastrians who stand strongly opposed to this industrial invasion. Lancaster County will stand up as many times, and for as long as it takes to stop this project. We now call for all supporters here, at our court date, to caravan together to Williams Corporate Headquarters, where we will officially put the company on notice.

They have refused to engage with us – the community – and so now we are going to knock and their door and tell them: Your dangerous pipeline is not welcome in Lancaster County, and we will continue to act to protect our homes and heritage.

 

[below]  The Eight and a crowd of supporters, followed by news media, then caravaned to Williams Headquarters in Greenfield Corporate Center.

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[below] There, Nick Martin, 25, of Willow Street, read a statement at their doorstep.

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Nick's statement on behalf of the group:

Letter To Williams Partners, Tulsa, Oklahoma:

We – residents of Lancaster County –  have come to your office directly from our first court hearing.  We are here to inform you: criminal charges will not deter us from protecting our county.  Our communities reject this project outright, with the totality of our collective will, and we will intervene at every step of the way to stop it from occurring.

Williams Partners: we have come here today to make you a promise. This is only the beginning.  We will not let your pipeline ruin the the fertile farmland that generations of Lancastrians have worked for a living.

We will not let you exploit the good nature of our Amish neighbors for your corporate profits.

We will not let you desecrate sacred Native American sites.

We will stand together, united, as one community, to prevent your project from occurring.

Williams Partners: What we have here in Lancaster County is special.  Our roots are deep and our soil is rich.  Your Oklahoma corporate board of millionaires does not get to decide the future of our community from 1200 miles away.

We, the citizens of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, will decide the future of our community.  We will nonviolently enforce the will of the people of Lancaster County.  We will protect the river hills, farms, and homes of Lancaster County. We Are Lancaster County Proud, and we will not let you built this pipeline through our county.

As a parting gift, we’d like to present you this Shoofly Pie.  We hope you enjoyed your time here.  But you’ve overstayed your welcome–and it’s time for you to go.

A shoofly pie and envelope was left at Williams’ doorstep.