(Roanoke County, VA—April 19, 2018) With regard to recent comments by several legislative representatives regarding the manner in which the Roanoke County Police Department is addressing ongoing protests of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, statements suggesting inhumane treatment of individuals is factually wrong and needlessly disparaging of our public safety staff.
While protesters occupying tree stands in defiance of the federal court order have been denied supplies from their supporters, Roanoke County will ensure their physical needs are being met.
In addition, routine wellness checks of protesters have been initiated by qualified emergency medical staff. To date, the protesters have indicated they have all necessary supplies and they have reported no medical concerns to our staff. Interactions with those protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been cordial and well-received. County public safety staff will remain diligent in ensuring enforcement of the federal court order while protecting the health and safety of all concerned.
Roanoke County has consistently and publicly stated that it will follow the direction determined by the court system as it applies to the MVP project. The federal and state courts have ruled consistently in favor of MVP. The Roanoke County Police Department is not taking sides in this matter. As a local law enforcement agency, the Roanoke County Police Department is required to follow the instructions ordered by the federal court as well as the laws of the Commonwealth which have been determined to permit the use of eminent domain for this project.
The primary role of the Police Department is to ensure the safety of our citizens and enforce the law. They are not there to contest decisions made by the FERC, the court system, state regulatory agencies, or the General Assembly in regards to construction activities or deadlines. Questions or concerns about those decisions can be taken up with those entities, not the Police Department. Neither the Police Department nor the County government has any regulatory authority to determine whether the pipeline can be built or what route it will take.
The 3/7/18 federal court order granted MVP property rights to immediate possession of easements gained through the laws of eminent domain. That order states that defendants and their agents, servants, employees, and those in active concert and participation with them, are prohibited from delaying, obstructing, or interfering with access to or use of the easements by MVP or its agents, servants, employees, or contractors. Per the court order, the individuals in the trees are in the easement granted to MVP and actively delaying, obstructing, and interfering with the use of the easement by MVP, therefore, those individuals are in violation of the federal court order and subject to charges being placed against them.
A magistrate on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for the two individuals. The charges include Trespass after having been forbidden to do so (Code of VA 18.2-119); Interfering with property rights (Code of VA 18.2-121); and Obstruction of justice (Code of VA 18.2-460).
We encourage people to review this information and more that is available on the Roanoke County website: www.RoanokeCountyVA.gov/MVP