Shortly before 8AM on the 14th of July, activists opposing fracking and LNG export out of Cove Point or anywhere else blockaded all doors into FERC’s headquarters. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC is suspected of being ready to rubber-stamp permits for gas export facility construction at Cove Point in Calvert County, MD. Cops helped FERC employees and bureaucrats push through lines of protesters, appearing at one point to use a pain hold to force a protester to let go of another. The blockades remained in place until about 10AM, at which point 24 activists were arrested.
Blockade at the front doors of FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission aka Dominion’s Rubber Stamp)
Cops help the rubber-stamp brigade of FERC run the blockade
The total ways into FERC included a front door, a rear entrance, and at least one, possibly two driveways. Both doors were blockaded by protesters exploiting existing police barricade to force anyone trying to squeeze past into the chokepoints on either end of the fence, which protesters focussed on after the first few “blockade runners” squeezed past the ends with police assistance at the rear door. In response additional protesters reinforced that position at the ends, shutting down that bypass. With considerable difficuly cops managed to pull their own fence apart at the middle to open another hole for FERC’s rubber stamp brigade to run the gauntlet. That’s when things got rough, with protesters being forcibly pulled apart by cops to open holes, and at one point what looked and acted like a pain compliance hold was used.
Shortly after the pain hold incident the cops started directing FERC staff back to the front door, starting a game of cat and mouse as cops opened new holes only to have protesters rush to stop them up. Meanwhile the driveway to the plaza area and rear garage was blockaded as well. Shortly before 10AM, someone going to another office that uses or also uses that rear garage said FERC had a dedicated garage fed by the other driveway. When three protesters blockaded that, in minutes the cops decided to negotiate, having been forced to the table by expensive cars carrying one FERC staffer each having been diverted.
At that point, the Federal Protective Service agreed to limit arrests and charges to those allowing post and forfeit if protesters would remove the driveway barricades. This was accepted, and 24 arrests resulted. Had the cops refused to negotiate, the parking garage would have stayed closed car longer and they knew it. In my judgement it was stgopping up that parking garage driveway that induced police who had been planning to hold protesters overnight to suddenly turn conciliatory and come to the table to negotiate, as protesters now held a trump card.