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Recent arrests under new anti-protest law spotlights risks that off-duty copy pose to pipeline opponents
Author: Alleen Brown & Will Parrish, The Intercept, Published on: 22 August 2018
Over the weekend, four opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline and an independent journalist covering their activities were arrested and charged under Louisiana House Bill 727, which makes trespassing on "critical infrastructure" facilities — a category that explicitly includes oil pipelines — a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $1,000, or both... [This] is one of numerous anti-protest laws that states have considered or enacted in the wake of the mass mobilization against the Dakota Access pipeline... The arrests also expose the blurred line between private security and public law enforcement that has become typical in the policing of anti-pipeline struggles.
... On August 9, the first three arrests under the law were carried out by probation and parole officers with Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections moonlighting as security guards for Bayou Bridge pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners. Ken Pastorick, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, told The Intercept that the department’s director authorized the officers to work on behalf of the Bayou Bridge pipeline as a form of “extra-duty employment.” “They have the ability to enforce the law in Louisiana even when off-duty and working extra-duty security details,” he said... Given the complex land ownership and public access rules that govern the bayou, handing discretionary arrest powers to a private company is particularly controversial... [According to]... Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson Vicki Granado wrote in a statement to The Intercept. “Any entry on our right-of-way by those not associated with our project is trespassing. These situations are dealt with by local law enforcement. We are thankful for the work they do to ensure everyone’s safety. Beyond that we don’t discuss specifics related to our security... Regarding recent laws that have been past [sic] relative trespassing on right-of-ways, we support any actions that will help to ensure the safety of our country’s infrastructure." [also refers to Enbridge, Leighton Security Services, Phillips 66, TigerSwan, Transcanada]