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Police break up protest at pipeline construction site

Over a dozen clergy were arrested, including Rev. John Gibbons from The First Parish in Bedford, at the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline construction site on Grove Street. John Tlumacki/globe staff

About 14 protesting religious leaders were led away by police Wednesday morning when they blocked work on the construction of a gas pipeline in West Roxbury, officials said.

Clergy from the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Unitarian Universalism faiths entered the construction site for the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline on Grove Street, sat on the ledge of a hole that will house the 16-inch steel pipe, and engaged in prayer, according to organizer Anne Bancroft, a minister at Theodore Parker Unitarian Universalist Church.

They were given an opportunity to leave but chose not to, at which point police took them to the West Roxbury police station.


“The clergy will pray and sing until the police place them under arrest,” the group wrote in a statement before the rally.

Bancroft said she and her fellow clergy were not formally booked but will instead receive a court summons in the mail.

Boston police spokeswoman Rachel McGuire said that police units were on scene but could not confirm that any arrests had been made or charges filed.

“The general sense is feeling the need to take this action in order to be heard, in order to have a voice,” Bancroft said as she left the police station. “There’s a fair amount of gratitude for our being together and standing together in a group, resisting this construction . . . a feeling of accomplishment for at least using our voices on behalf of what we believe.”

Before arriving at the site, the group led a marchwith about 70 other people.

The protesters say that the gas pipeline holds a dangerous amount of pressure and is bad for the environment because of its use of fossil fuels. Just as troubling, Bancroft said, is “the unprecedented hubris of putting a 750-pound-per-square-inch pipeline through a neighborhood.”

“It simply doesn’t make sense,” she said.


J.D. Capelouto can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.