State drops charges against 4 pipeline protesters arrested for blocking access to Otis State Forest


GREAT BARRINGTON — Four of the 10 people arrested two weeks ago following an early morning protest at the Otis State Forest in Sandisfield had their day in court Aug. 21.

The four were Patricia P. Wieland, 74, of Langworthy Road, Northampton; Harriet A. Nestel, 78, of South Main Street, Athol; Ellen M. Graves, 77, of Plateau Circle, West Springfield and Priscilla Lynch, of South Shirkshire Road, Conway.

The four were part of a 10-person contingent that blocked two access roads in the Sandisfield portion of the Otis State Forest to protest the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.

The women, as well as six other protesters, were charged with disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.

On Monday, the prosecution entered a plea of "nolle prosequi" for all four defendants, a Latin term meaning, "be unwilling to pursue."

The maneuver effectively drops the case, but enables charges to be refiled should the prosecution opt to do so without invoking the "double jeopardy" statute.

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According to a report by state police, the two groups began blocking Access Road No. 2 and the intersection of South Beech Plain Road at about 6:30 a.m. Aug. 9.

The groups prevented pipeline workers from accessing the job site.

State and local police were called in, and traffic was rerouted.

State police informed the protesters that if they did not leave, they would be charged. According to the report, all the protesters declined to leave and police arrested them.

State police reported that the protesters "were compliant with police requests and directions at all times.'

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-770-6977


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