New documents reveal the Massachusetts State Police were paid over $100,000 by Kinder Morgan Inc to prevent local activists and representatives of indigenous communities from stopping the Connecticut Expansion Pipeline project.
Environmental activists and local indigenous communities have been fighting the Connecticut Expansion Pipeline since 2014 when Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. first applied for development of the project. In recent months opponents of the project have been arrested for attempting blockades and obstruction of pipeline construction. However, newly released invoices may add more fuel to the fire as they reveal a cozy business relationship between the Kinder Morgan subsidiary and the Massachusetts State Police.
The pipeline will cut through Albany County in New York, Berkshire and Hampden counties in Massachusetts, and Connecticut’s Hartford County. The pipeline will run through the Otis State Forest near Sandisfield, Mass. In April, the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office sought to intervene in the pipeline by claiming that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had not properly surveyed and considered the negative consequences of construction.
The Narragansett have been fighting to stop destruction of sacred ceremonial stones. Ultimately, the FERC approved the permit for construction despite the land being covered under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Land Disposition Policy. After pursuing legal strategies for stopping the project, activists opted to take their fight to the frontlines of the pipeline construction.
In early May, 24 protesters were arrested while protesting the project. On July 29, the MSP arrested 22 protesters for trespassing onto a restricted construction site for the CEP. In early August ten protesters were arrested after forming a blockade. There have been a total of 66 arrests. There were no reports of resistance or violence. Erik Burcroff, 61, told the Daily Hampshire Gazette he was putting his body on the line because writing letters to Congress and speaking at meetings did not prevent the pipeline. “It seems there is no other recourse. We’ve exhausted all other alternatives,” Burcoff stated.
The protesters were part of the Sugar Shack Alliance, a coalition of environmental activists from the Northeast who seek to nonviolently disrupt the fossil fuel industry. The SSA is not only attempting to stop the Connecticut Expansion Project pipeline, but also focused on builder an international movement to stop future projects. The group recently partnered with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the site of major conflict between tribal members and supporters and Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Alvin Grassrope, American Horse, and Redwolf told The Berkshire Eagle they were joining with the activists because unity is needed.
“We need to be one,” Redwolf said. “Let’s get through this healing process together, then though unity we can do anything.”
While the activists have staged protest after a protest, Troop B of the Massachusetts State Police have been stationed in Sandisfield to keep watch. Transparency organization, MuckRock, filed open records requests to reveal any possible malfeasance. MuckRock reports that communications between Kinder Morgan Inc. and the Massachusetts State Police show an invoice for “services for provided in May 2017.” Another file revealed that MSP was paid $115,949.33 for “pipeline authority” and “pipeline security” services.
“When public servants are hired by private firms, the balance of power between public interest and private profit can be easily corroded – agencies that are put in place to protect and serve the public cannot simultaneously work for corporations while serving the people,” MuckRock writes.
The invoice is yet another example of corporations hiring police or private contractors to defend their projects, arrest activists, and/or infiltrate activist groups. Whether private or public, these institutions represent a real threat to the right to protest and the right to protect and defend the planet. This relationship between private corporations and the police is yet another stark reminder of the corporatism and statism threatening all free people.
To find out more about resistance to the Connecticut Expansion Project pipeline, follow the Sugar Shack Alliance.
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2
Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact [email protected]
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