6 arrested following pipeline protest

ANGELINA COUNTY (KYTX) -- Five protesters were arrested Thursday--with an additional arrest made Friday--following a demonstration against the TransCanada Gulf Coast Extension pipeline project.

The arrests were made on and near the site where two people had climbed trees in an attempt to delay construction on the pipeline. Those two people were allegedly among those arrested.

Michael Joseph Stewart, one of the alleged tree blockaders, was charged with criminal mischief Friday. His bail had not been set as of 1:30 Friday afternoon.

Audrey Jane Campbell of St. Paul, MN was the other tree blockader. She was charged with criminal mischief. Her bail had not been set as of 1:30 Friday afternoon.

Patrick William Boyle of Denver, CO and Dakoda Nikalie Benson of Kalamazoo, MI were charged Thursday with evading arrest. They were released Friday on $1,500 bond each.

Gerald Adam Sproehlich of Sheboygan, WI was charged Thursday with criminal trespassing and evading arrest. His bail is set at $3,000.

Murtaza Nek of Vienna, VA was charged Thursday with interfering with public duties. His bail is set at $1,500.

Members of the Tar Sands Blockade group responsible for the protest told CBS 19 they were upset that law enforcement had cut down "safety lines" meant to prevent them from being able to extract the two tree-sitters from their perches.

TransCanada Spokesperson David Dodson released the following statement while the tree-sit was still underway:

At the moment, no construction is taking place in the area, and the illegal occupation of the trees is having no impact on construction.

It's cold, windy and wet out there, and the protestor(s) are 40 feet up in the air. As always, our first concern is for the health and safety of the protestors and for the others (such as law enforcement personnel, land owners and construction workers) they may be putting in harm's way. We have plenty of time to consider our options on how to complete construction of this important piece of energy infrastructure.


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