Monday, June 23, 2008

Nashville Activists Arrested in Indiana

ANTI-I69 TREE SIT EVICTED, POLICE DANGEROUSLY PULL PROTESTERS FROM TREE TOPS

June 20th 7am, Evansville Indiana -- In the early morning hours of June 20th, around 25 police officers from the Indiana State Police (ISP), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Gibson County Sheriff's office descended on the scene of the anti-I69 tree sit, just south of State Road 68 in southern Gibson County (20 miles north of Evansville). The police officers, many of them trained specifically for this purpose, brought in 'cherry pickers' and other platform raising equipment in order to reach the sitters. The two people in the trees at the time of eviction were lowered to the ground, after being forcefully and dangerously approached by Conservation Officers of the IDNR. Erk Magas, Michelle Soto, Emily Cross, and Laura Barnett from Nashville were arrested and were released on bail.


Sitting on platforms suspended 40 feet above the ground, the tree-sitters were not in positions from which they could be easily and safely removed. Arresting officers' reckless behaviors, however, resulted in protesters' quick eviction. One protester was not attached to a safety line during the eviction, but was still hostilely handled by the Conservation Officers. As they reached her with the cherry picker, they pulled her unattached to anything that would have prevented her tumbling to the ground, putting her life in great danger.

After evicting the first sitter, officers moved on to the second. They raised the cherry picker below the platform to threaten the sitter, and then lifted the platform with the cherry picker. They proceeded to cut the support line that was holding it in the tree. This protester had locked himself onto the ropes using a 'lock box' device intended to help him evade eviction. The officers cut that rope, leaving this protester also without any form of safety.

After the tree-sitters were forcibly removed from their tree top positions, they were lowered, cuffed and placed on the ground below the trees. From a telephone recording made during the eviction, it is clear that the arresting officers purposefully laid one of the protesters face down into a patch of poison ivy.

People not involved in the tree-sit eviction this morning have reported to the media office that state police officers are pulling people over on the state highways in the vicinity of the sit. One person reports that they were surrounded by 5 police vehicles when stopped. As well, it has been reported that one car had its tires blown out by the state police in order for them to arrest all of the occupants of that vehicle.

The information in this press release was compiled by the I-69 Media Office, an independent anti-I69 media clearinghouse. All questions should be directed to the media contact given in this release.

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