Intrepid videographer Bill Huston went to find out; here’s his account of his encounter with Frack Fascists at FERC’s sham hearings on yet another shale gas pipeline to China:
“So for me it all started in the parking lot. As I was walking in shlepping all my gear, Bryant Latourette (Oxford Land Group, co-founder JLCNY) said hi to me, then said, “Hey Bill, aren’t you afraid of getting beaten up?”
Wow. I was stunned.
What a strange thing to say, I thought, so I put my things down, turned on my camera and got a quick interview w/him, about why I should be afraid. So the intimidation began (for me) 1 hour before the meeting.
Lots of orange union guys, like the last 2 hearings.At least 2 cops were present through most of the meeting.
Before the start, Lisa Barr and Vic Furman (aka “Frackman’) were sitting at opposite ends of the first row. Lisa started antagonizing Vic,shouting that he pulls of his pants with minor children are around.Which is true, but I suggested to her that if she tries to be nice, things might go more smoothly. Things have been tense enough without abuse coming from our side before it all began. Lisa then let loose on me with a string of obscenities.
Lisa Barr was the first speaker, and spoke eloquently with a prepared speech, which called the union guys thugs and thieves.
That got them all riled up.Peter Hudiburg was next. He went over 4 min. When FERC’s Kevin
Bowman who was running the meeting tried cutting Peter off,suddenly one of the cops came down the aisle after Peter.
Someone mentioned to me (didn’t get his name) that FERC didn’t call the police, nor ask them to assist, so it was a little weird that the police sua sponte thought it was their job to play Time-keeper (with tasers).
So that set the precedent… If you go over, cops will come.
These are the events leading up the the big free-for-all:Much later (maybe 9:30?), Kim Michels from Afton went over her alloted 4 min,and for the second time, cops came down the aisle. There was lots of shouting from the union boys in orange.FERC’s Kevin Bowman put the meeting into recess for 10min after that.
During recess, suddenly there was a big commotion. Pete and Linda Bevalaqua were shouting about being bullied. I grabbed my camera and ran up to see what was going on.
After studying the video, I believe the guy (guessing he’s 6′ 3″) who was harassing Linda and Pete is Paul McCormick, Local 158 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (Rochester) http://www.iuoelocal106.org/
Also, adding to the fun was FERC’s Charlie Brown, came back from retirement to work this meeting. During the melee, he said to *LINDA B.* words to the effect, “What don’t you sit down and be quiet. You always make trouble at these hearings”.
This was the most senior FERC official there! And he’s not mad at the bussed-in union bullies!
He’s mad at a housewife and farmer who labored for many years,alone, raising the kids while Pete was working in the city,both hoping to enjoy some peace and quiet in their retirement years after the kids are grown, only to have this monstrosity pipeline coming near their property — inside the BLAST ZONE. (Linda told this story later, and cried. It was very moving).
So Mr. 6’3″ was standing in the back (dark pants, light shirt just to the right of the doorway in the above photo) by the time I got there with my camera, and it wasn’t clear to me who he was (until I studied the video record later), because another big dude #2 (probably 250+ lbs) came up and ran interference. Started telling me to “get that camera out of my face”. Keep in mind that he ran up and got between me and the guy who started the problem.
There were several Teamsters all around. One told me “Go sit down, Spielberg!”, another said “Go back to Philly where you came from!” Another one called me a “fag”.
Big Dude #2, who was telling me to “get that camera out of my face” turns out to be Stephen Stoddard, Teamsters Local 693 (Binghamton).
I was ~10ft away, not exactly in his face, until he came up to me. I told him it’s a public meeting and I have a right to record. He kept telling me to turn my camera off. I said, sorry, no.
Finally he said,“I got news for you. You’d better hope I don’t follow you outta here!”
I said, “Hey, is that a threat?” I looked around for a cop, but apparently the were outside dealing with two sisters fighting in the parking lot about something unrelated to the pipeline. Weird night. So I asked someone with a cell phone to call 911, that I wanted to file a police report. I have the whole thing recorded.
I was surrounded by Orange Shirts, all shouting. It was very intimidating, but I stood my ground. Craig Stevens was standing nearby.
“Hey, I think that sounds like a threat!” he also said.When I turned around, I saw Matt Swift, project manager for CP standing there. I shouted: “Hey Matt! Did you bring these Teamsters here to bully us?”
Matt replied they came of their own accord. (One of the union bosses told me the same thing. But there is certain evidence which suggests otherwise).
“Do you support this bullying, Matt?” I was quite upset by that point and shouting.
“No. I support the pipeline”. He replied.
“Do you support these Teamster bullies harassing legitimate intervenors and landowners?”
“No. I support the pipeline”.
The meeting began again. I turned my cameras on, and soon it was my turn to speak. Just then, the cops showed up. After I spoke, I went to find them and insisted they make a police report.The cop I spoke to was very nice, and said that what the thug said did not count as a threat. Too vague.
He and another officer went to interview Big Dude #2.
I asked Epifanio (Pete) Bevalaqua to tell the police how it all started.
I returned to my camera.
Later the officer told me Big Dude #2’s name is Steven (or Stephen) Stoddard of Port Crane. Amazingly, Stoddard stuck around and was called to speak.
Heriberto (Eddie) Rodriguez was there videotaping also.
At the mic,Stoddard reiterated what he had told me before: “I’m telling you two who are recording me, I DO NOT give you permission to make any video of me tonight public!”
I responded: ‘That video will be on youtube TONIGHT!’ The crowd laughed at that one.
All of the union guys made a hasty exit after that. Ray Lewis said, “The bus to Newburgh must be leaving!” That cracked up everyone who heard it.So after that, things settled down.
It was just “us” after that. A bunch of friends. I had a crowd of people who offered to help carry my equipment, and escort me to the car safely. I felt very protected. Thanks to all.
Even the cops escorted me out. I told them I felt like I was the President. I’d never received a police escort before.
I had later dinner with Craig and Vera after that. We all agreed that this all shows that CP must be feeling rather desperate, to pull these kinds of shenanigans. They must think this project is in jeopardy, that they are pulling out all the stops in order to bully us.
But tonight was so far over the top, it feels like that we “won”, because they were so extreme.
Packing local hearings with Rent-a-Thugs can’t be good for their image as “good neighbors”.
FERC is just going through the motions on these hearings. Would submit written comments on matters that can be litigated – and would encourage landowners to not sell land for ROW.