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Deputies arrest Enbridge protesters locked to trucks

Enbridge protesters Dylan Jacob Ochala-Gorka (right) and Duncan Alexander Tarr are shown locked to the front of a Precison Pipeline truck parked on the Koenig Sand & Gravel property in Oxford Township. This photo was posted on www.commondreams.org. (click for larger version)
August 27, 2014 - Question – When can using a bicycle lock get a person arrested?

Answer – When a protester uses it to fasten himself to a construction truck.

Two men protesting against the Canada-based Enbridge company were arrested Monday morning after they allegedly used large U-shaped bicycle locks to secure their necks to the frame of a truck belonging to the Wisconsin-based Precision Pipeline. The truck was parked on the Koenig Sand & Gravel property along Lakeville Rd. in Oxford Township.

Dylan Jacob Ochala-Gorka, 21, of Livonia, and Duncan Alexander Tarr, 20, of East Lansing, were arrested for trespassing and obstructing a police officer engaged in the performance of his duty.

They were released by the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office pending further investigation.

Both men are organizers with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) and were part of a group of approximately 20 to 30 activists protesting against Enbridge.

Enbridge is in the process of wrapping up the final phase of its Line 6B replacement work in Oxford and Addison. Line 6B is a 285-mile pipeline that transports crude oil between Griffith, Indiana and Sarnia, Ontario.

Enbridge has been leasing part of the Koenig site and using it as the main staging area for its pipeline work.

Despite being ordered to leave the Koenig property and threatened with arrest, Ochala-Gorka and Tarr allegedly refused to comply. They "refused to assist" in the removal of the locks and "made no effort" to help officers locate the keys, according to the sheriff's report.

"My act of defiance is an act against the machine, meant to slow and halt its destruction," said Tarr in a statement published on www.commondreams.org, a progressive news website. "Enbridge, and the pipelines they control, are a central part in the destruction of life...Their spills, leaks, and presence in my area has caused the deaths of many humans and countless other creatures, trees, and plants. Let my act of defiance be a call to others, because this land that we are standing on now is being killed. And we know exactly who the killers are."

Back in 2010, Enbridge's Line 6B ruptured near Marshall, Michigan and spilled an estimated 843,000 gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The spill prompted the costliest onshore cleanup in U.S. history at more than $1 billion.

"If putting my body between big oil and profits is necessary, I will continue to stand up between them and their meaningless money," said Ochala-Gorka in a statement published on the aforementioned website.

Oxford firefighters were called to the scene to cut the locks off both men.

Once freed, the men were taken into custody and jailed without incident.

As a result of freeing them, the blades on the fire department's manual bolt cutters and hydraulic cutters were damaged and will need to be replaced.

Fire Chief Pete Scholz is planning to seek restitution from Ochala-Gorka and Tarr for the damaged blades as well as the cost for the personnel and equipment used at the scene.

It amounts to a total of $1,600, which includes the blades, plus having two trucks and two firefighters on scene for about an hour-and-a-half, according to Scholz.

"There's no reason the taxpayers should have to pay for that," the chief said.

Oakland County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Patterson, commander of the Oxford Twp. substation, said he was informed the delay caused by the two protesters cost two companies involved in the pipeline project an estimated $42,500 combined.

When sheriff's deputies arrived, the other demonstrators – the ones not locked to a truck – were trespassing on Koenig property and blocking the driveway, preventing vehicles from passing, according to the report.

However, when deputies ordered them to leave Koenig property and return to the public right-of-way along Lakeville Rd., the demonstrators complied without incident, the report stated. No other arrests were made.

The protestors were also notified by deputies they could not have their cars parked in the lot at nearby Lakeville Elementary.

"At the direction of the school superintendent," the Lakeville parking lot is "not to be used for any non-school function," the report stated. "They were ordered to move their vehicles immediately or risk them being towed."

Based on the report, the protesters complied with that order and moved their cars.

This is the second time in a month that MI CATS activists have been arrested protesting at the Koenig site. On July 25, Alan Smith, 50, of Indiana, and Jacob McGraw, 31, of Milford, were arrested.

They are charged with mass picketing and failure to comply with an order or direction from a police officer, both misdemeanor crimes.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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