Six Arrested During Megaload Protest

A member of the Moscow Police Department (left) and an Idaho State Police trooper arrest a protester Friday morning in Moscow.

They’ve already been released from jail

Six Moscow protestors were arrested after an Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil megaload was blocked early Friday at the intersection of U.S Highway 95/Washington Street and Third Street in Moscow.

Those arrested were Brett Haverstick, 38; Mitchell Day, 40; Vincent Murray, 61; David Willard, 52; Gregory Freistadt, 26; and William French, 55, said Capt. Lonnie Richardson, of the Idaho State Police in Lewiston.

All six face misdemeanor allegations of assembling to disturb the peace and refusal to disperse, Richardson said.

French received an additional misdemeanor citation that alleges malicious injury to property in connection with allegedly kicking out a sheriff’s vehicle window, said Bill Thompson, Latah County prosecutor.

The six were handcuffed and taken in a Latah County detention vehicle to the county jail where they had the option of posting bond or waiting to see a judge Friday morning, Richardson said.

The cases are being handled in Latah County’s Magistrate Court, Thompson said.

Haverstick, Day, and Freistadt pleaded innocent to the allegations Friday and are scheduled for pretrial conferences in September, Thompson said.

Murray, French, and Willard will have initial appearances at 8:30 am Monday, Thompson said.

All had been released from custody before midday Friday, according to the Latah County Sheriff’s Department.

The maximum jail time for a misdemeanor in Idaho is a year, Richardson said. “As a general rule for something like this, the penalty is going to be a fine. I’d be shocked if they got any jail time for this. That’s left to the prosecutor and the judge.”

The protestors and ISP provided slightly different versions of how events unfolded. ISP estimated the shipment was delayed about 20 to 25 minutes at about 12:20 am.

Wild Idaho Rising Tide, an anti-megaload group, reported it stopped the rig that takes up two lanes of traffic for as much as 45 minutes.

“Scores of community members and newly returned college students stood in the streets, angrily chanting and waving signs,” according to a news release from Wild Idaho Rising Tide. “Police dragged several demonstrators to the curb, but six reseated themselves ahead of the transport and were arrested.”

ISP officers allowed as many as 50 people who were in the street when they arrived to stay there for a matter of minutes, Richardson said. “We’re cognizant of people’s first amendment rights and freedom of speech.”

The six were warned repeatedly they needed to move prior to being arrested and those who were drug off were given an opportunity to walk, Richardson said.

“I was more proud, excited, and hopeful than I was scared,” Haverstick said. “When you’re a part of a much larger whole, there’s a sense of safety and camaraderie. For me, that overwhelmed any type of fear that I was experiencing.”

The incident didn’t have a major effect on Imperial Oil’s efforts to get about 70 pieces of its Kearl Oil Sands processing plant to their destination in Alberta, Canada, on U.S. 95.

The oversized load completed its trip from the Port of Lewiston to the Latah/Benewah county line at 2:20 am, well ahead of 5:30 am when the window for its travel closed, Richardson said.

It was expected to resume travel at 10 pm Friday and reach a spot on Interstate 90 about 15 miles east of Coeur d’Alene this morning, then arrive at the Montana border early Sunday.

The protestors are vowing to continue their efforts to “stall this tar sands supply route,” according to the Wild Idaho Rising Tide news release.

Imperial Oil’s transportation plan is based on the idea that Korean-made components of the plant can be moved safely and efficiently with minimum impact, said Pius Rolheiser, a spokesman for Imperial Oil in Calgary Alberta. “We continue to believe that we’ll be able to do that.”

They were barged to the Port of Lewiston in the fall and Imperial Oil wanted to get them across Idaho on U.S Highway 12 where they wouldn’t have to go underneath Interstate overpasses. Imperial Oil has yet to secure the permission to do so. Instead it shorted the shipments at a cost of about $500,000 each.

The protestors used Friday’s incident to broaden the discussion about sending Imperial Oil loads through north central Idaho.

“These operations spew toxic air pollution, hasten global warming, and poison the waters, lands, and wildlife of the boreal forests and wetlands,” according to a news release from Wild Idaho Rising Tide.

Imperial Oil recognizes streams and creeks are being displaced in the development of the Kearl Oil Sands, Rolheiser said.

It’s developing new fish habitat in an amount greater than what’s been disturbed in consultation with native people, Rolheiser said.

A new type of patented technology will be used at the Kearl Oil Sands site that’s expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to be similar to those of processing conventional crude oil, Rolheiser said.

(By Elaine Williams, The Lewiston Tribune)

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