Great Barrington — Downtown and the courthouse on Gilmore Avenue were alive with political activity Monday morning (October 23) as scores of activists turned out to kick off a “week of resistance” to the Connecticut Expansion Pipeline in the Otis State Forest in Sandisfield.
In solidarity with Divest the Globe and indigenous Water Protectors, Sugar Shack Alliance activists and others have planned the resistance week in advance of the flow of fracked gas through the pipeline, which energy giant Kinder Morgan wants to commence on Nov. 1.
The groups will host what they call a “divestment action” at the TD Bank on Main Street in Northampton on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at noon. The action will come on the coattails of a similar divestment action today at the Great Barrington TD Bank branch on Main Street.
Demonstrators started today’s protest at the Southern Berkshire District Court, where dozens of them had previously appeared before Judge Paul Vrabel to face charges of trespassing and other minor charges stemming for their actions in Sandisfield.
Then, toting a pup tent and carrying signs urging a boycott and divestment, they camped out in front of TD Bank on Main Street. Other signs mentioned Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, which protesters say should have protected the Otis State Forest from Kinder Morgan’s actions.
“Gas may start flowing through that pipeline, but we’re not about to let that happen silently,” said Sugar Shack Alliance spokesperson Kathy Daly said in a release announcing the actions.
The Sugar Shack Alliance and Water Protectors from around the country have been demonstrating at the Sandisfield site since construction started in the state forest in April of this year. Over 70 arrests have taken place since that time.
Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan Corporation is expected to soon begin construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which will carry tar sands oil form Canada to terminals for export and profit. The project has encountered strong resistance from indigenous groups who object to its construction on or near their lands.
Sugar Shack says this week’s Divest the Globe campaign calls for individuals and institutions to divest from banks that finance this project and others. The activists have targeted TD Bank (formerly Toronto Dominion Bank) since they claim it’s the top funder of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
“The continued construction of fossil fuel infrastructure is killing our planet and her people. It is our civic duty to do all that we possibly can to stop this construction, which is unnecessary given known and present options for renewable energy,” said Priscilla Lynch, a member of the Sugar Shack Alliance. “It is the financial greed of fossil fuel corporations like Kinder Morgan, which is driving these dangerous and life killing pipelines. Divesting from banks supporting this greed is one tool for affecting change and saving our planet.”
For tomorrow’s Northampton event, attendees are asked to gather at noon at Pulaski Park to proceed to TD Bank. Sugar Shack says a prayer service will be led by indigenous Water Protectors. A call for divestment will be read and distributed.
In part, the call states, as consumers and customers of all sizes, “we demand TD Bank stop using our money to fund tar sands pipelines that our communities and planet cannot afford. We call on our neighbors, elected officials, and pension managers to close all accounts with TD Bank unless they immediately stop financing tar sands pipelines.”