Pipeline Protest Lands Three ‘Mama Bears’ In The Slammer


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Three women who call themselves “mama bears” were sent to jail Saturday for refusing to obey police orders and vacate a rally, marking the latest arrests for the anti-pipeline activists.

In eastern Pennsylvania, protesters continue to fight against the construction of Mariner East 2, a new pipeline that will deliver liquid natural gas across the state. Mama bears — the moniker adopted by moms and other women who oppose the pipeline — held a “bake sale” Saturday morning by a construction site in Middletown, Pennsylvania. Surrounded by dozens of teddy bears and handing out homemade cookies, the protesters refused to leave when law enforcement arrived, according to The Delaware County Daily Times.

Three mama bears — Barbara Montabana, Abbie Wysor and Ann Dixon — were handcuffed and sent to jail, charged with a summary offense and defiant trespassing. All three women were released after less than two hours.

The women were not alone during their Saturday protest, joined by about two dozen other pipeline protesters who were nearby. The group began to sing as the mama bears were taken away by police: “Gonna keep on walkin’, keep on talkin’ and gonna shut this pipeline down.” (RELATED: Police Raid Anti-Pipeline Site, Destroy Their Camp And Send Them Straight To Jail)

This not the first time women who identify as “mama bears” have been jailed for illegally protesting the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Ellen Gerhart, a 63-year-old retired school teacher, was arrested July 27 for violating a court order that she not interfere with pipeline workers. Gerhart is accused of spreading spoiled food around a construction site in an attempt to attract wild animals, starting a fire that threatened equipment and forcing a construction vehicle to stop when she stood in front of it. She is currently serving a two-to-six month jail sentence and a $2,000 fine for her actions.

These protesters are, in major part, organized by Middletown Coalition of Community Safety, a local organization that opposes the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Its members have led numerous demonstrations in the past several months and have spoken out against Sunoco, the company behind the project.

After Sunoco offered a $10,000 reward in April for information leading to the arrests of vandals responsible for destroying construction equipment, Middletown Coalition of Community Safety purported a conspiracy theory by offering its own $10,000 reward for proof that it was actually Sunoco involved in the vandalism of their own equipment.

Sunoco expects construction of Mariner East 2 to be completed by September.

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