Eight arrested in protest against Dominion

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Capital News Service

Eight people were arrested for trespassing on the Capitol steps Saturday, following a rowdy march of environmental activists against Dominion Power’s plans to release treated water from coal ash ponds into the James River.

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The event — “Dump Dominion, a march for our rivers” — was sponsored by the group No ACP. That abbreviation stands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which Dominion plans to build across western Virginia to carry natural gas. Many environmentalists oppose the pipeline as well as the company’s plans for disposing of coal ash.

Hundreds of environmental activists and other citizens rallied at noon at the Bell Tower in the Capitol Square, protesting what they see as Dominion’s environmentally destructive practices. The environmentalists want the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to rescind state permits that Dominion has received to release treated water from the coal ash ponds into waterways.

According to the organization’s pamphlet, “spreading toxic coal ash throughout our communities and poisoning our water is not a solution. The DEQ must repeal these discharge permits immediately and rewrite them to ensure that Dominion complies with their own promises to treat the wastewater to drinking quality standards.”

After hearing from guest speakers, the protesters were lined up at the entrance to Capitol Square on Ninth Street by the event’s organizers. The group included trained legal observers, media liaisons and liaisons to communicate specifically with police officers.

Participants in the march wrapped around the block and to the entrance to the visitor center under the state Capitol building. Many of the protesters were dressed in costumes or wore anti-coal-ash logos on their shirts.

There were about 700 to 800 protesters in all, and they spanned the entire block. They included young children on the shoulders of their parents and other youth helping to hold signs.

After marching past both the headquarters of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Dominion Power, the protesters returned to Capitol Square. They branched off into two groups at the fork in the sidewalk leading to the steps of the Capitol.

Encouraged by the crowd, more than 110 protesters ascended and stood on the Capitol steps, with their banners and signs. They continued to shout until the time for the march permit ran out at 3 p.m.

By 3:30 p.m., more than 40 police officers assembled on the Capitol steps or around the Capitol building, ready to take action against the handful of protesters who remained. The police gave the demonstrators a five-minute warning.

The demonstrators on the Capitol steps linked arms and waited until the warning was up. Police officers un-linked the protesters one by one and removed them from the steps. They were led around the side of the Capitol, where all of them signed a summons to appear before a local court for trespassing.

In all, eight people were arrested.