Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Student may face penalty over protests

When Tim Clancy shackled himself to the entrance gateway of the Spectra Energy worksite on the morning of Aug. 18, he knew that he would inevitably be placed under arrest.

Clancy, a Suffolk senior history major, and two others secured themselves to the gate in an act of protest to slow down construction of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. They handcuffed themselves to the fence with makeshift lockboxes with a thick metal design that required an industrial saw to cut the wearer free. Once emergency responders arrived to the scene, it reportedly took more than 90 minutes to cut the protesters free. Clancy was taken into police custody and charged with trespassing, disturbing the peace and destruction of property. He is neither the first, nor last, to be arrested during protests of the pipeline as more than 180 protesters have been arrested since October 2015.

Clancy has not been convicted of anything. He has a court date, set for Oct. 5., and has been preparing for it while regularly attending classes. He said he still firmly believes in his act of civil disobedience, despite the repercussions he is facing.

“Whatever the court decides, I know that what I did was right,” said Clancy. “What I have done, and what now hundreds of people have done alongside of me, is necessary for the survival of West Roxbury, everything on the route of this pipeline and ultimately necessary for the survival of this planet.”

Shortly after the three protesters were separated from the entrance gates, seven more protesters jumped into the trench that the pipeline was being built in, further delaying construction. In total, construction crews lost about three hours of construction time that day due to protester interference, according to Clancy.

“We aren’t able to contest this any other way because the avenues we are allowed are cut off, intentionally by design,” said Clancy.

The pipeline has faced heavy criticism from the West Roxbury community, and Boston and Massachusetts government officials who are unable to intervene. Last year, Spectra sued the city of Boston and the federal judge ruled that Spectra could take eminent domain of the streets, said Clancy. The pipeline’s metering and regulation station, will receive volatile methane gas at 750 psi, is laid out adjacent to the West Roxbury Crushed Stone, an active blast quarry, according to Clancy. This has raised concerns over the safety of the neighborhood the pipeline snakes through. Clancy explained that reverberations from exploding dynamite from the quarry can reportedly be felt throughout the blocks surrounding the quarry.  Some residents who live near the quarry, like Clancy, have dubbed it the  “incineration zone”, which is the area that he believes will be up in flames if the pipeline ruptures.

“In West Roxbury, Spectra is basically giving us the choice between two deaths, either burning in fire if the pipeline explodes or choking on salt water when global warming catches up to us,” said Clancy. “I don’t want those choices. I don’t want that for myself, I don’t want that for the next generations. I will madly fight to prevent that fate from befalling anyone.”

Protest groups such as Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (SWRL), which Clancy is affiliated with,  have been emphatically fighting the construction of the pipeline. SWRL is directed by a steering committee that plans vigils, protests and actions perpetrated by the group. Mary Boyle, one of SWRL’s steering committee members, lives in close proximity to the trenches that have acted as the epicenter for the protests. She has been an advocate against the lateral pipeline from the day that it was announced and has become a figurehead for the movements. Every morning she takes part in vigils to show dissent for Spectra and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Opponents of the pipeline have coined the hashtag #standwithmary as an act of community solidarity.

“I have become a symbol,” she said in an interview with The Journal on Monday night. “I’m a 76-year-old woman with grey hair, but if that’s what it takes to bring people together, I’m okay with that.”

As a long time resident of West Roxbury, this is the first cause Boyle has experienced that has brought such strong unification and mobilization to the neighborhood. She recently celebrated her birthday with a surprise party followed by a vigil and peaceful protest that successfully delayed construction. She has spent her fair share of time in court as well. While Tim Clancy and the other protesters were locked to the entrance gates of the construction site, Boyle was in court for her own acts of civil disobedience.

Last year, the Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts Senators, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey cosigned a letter with U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch to FERC urging them to evaluate the proposed pipeline project. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has also voiced opposition to the project, according to the Globe. Attempts by The Journal to reach State Representative Ed Coppinger were unsuccessful.

“We are a frontline community,” said Boyle. “For West Roxbury it’s an immediate problem, but it is also a problem that is representative of the country as a whole. Corporations have been running an awful lot of things in this country and there are not many ways we can fight this.

The pipeline set to be finished in November, said Boyle, but she believes that construction is behind schedule. Once it has been effectively buried, SWRL and other protest groups will have to adjust accordingly.

“My fear is that once it’s completed people will let it slide to the back of their mind,” she said, “We are going to have to find a way to keep people thinking about it and remind them that the gas can be cut off.”

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About the Contributor
Jacob Geanous, Past World News Editor
Jacob Geanous is a senior Print Journalism major with a minor in government/international relations.
He has an associates degree in criminal justice from Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. His articles can also be seen in the Metro section of the Boston Globe.
No, he's not tired, that's just how he looks. He played outside linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh, but don't ask him about it. If he is not in the office, good luck finding him.

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Student may face penalty over protests