Boston police arrested 15 people Thursday morning in West Roxbury during a protest against a high-pressure natural gas pipeline under construction on Washington Street.
“Fifteen individuals entered the work zone and blocked an excavator from working,” said Boston Police Officer Stephen McNulty, a department spokesman. “There were multiple verbal commands issued to comply. They were given several minutes to think through their decision, and then they were informed they were disturbing the peace.”
McNulty said all 15 people were taken into custody without incident shortly after 8 a.m. They were later released and will be summonsed to West Roxbury Municipal Court.
The protesters ranged in age from 28 to 85, McNulty said.
Protest leaders said more than 40 people have been arrested for protesting the pipeline over the past several weeks. The protesters hold daily vigils at the construction grounds each morning.
Thursday’s protest was themed “Mothers and Grandmothers,” said Rickie Harvey, co-founder of West Roxbury Saves Energy. She said the about 50 protesters, including mothers and grandmothers, were blocking the Spectra pipeline construction site as they held hands and sang.
“The whole point here is, the more fossil fuels we keep dredging out of the earth, it’s really our children who are going to pay the price more than anyone,” Harvey said.
Arthur Diestel, a spokesman for Spectra Energy and Algonquin Gas Transmission, said the company has been engaging with the West Roxbury community through local leaders and residents since June 2013. He said despite efforts from protesters to stall progress on the pipeline, the construction workers have maintained their proposed schedule.
“We’re committed to the responsible development, reliable operations, and respectful ongoing engagement with the communities we serve,” he said. “Our approach hasn’t changed, and it won’t change.”
Chuck Collins, a member of the Resist the Pipeline and Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline groups, said Thursday’s protest was spirited, and the cold weather will not scare the demonstrators away.
“There’s an increased momentum,” Collins said. “There’s just a wide range of people.”
In addition to the protesters, Harvey and Collins said City Councilors Michelle Wu and Matt O’Malley and City Councilor-elect Annissa Essaibi-George were also in attendance.
Harvey described Thursday’s protest as peaceful and respectful. She added that the protesters and officers are cooperating with one another. “There’s no yelling going on. They’re not trying to get the handcuffs on. When police say it’s time to go, they go,” she said.