MOSCOW – Two Moscow men pleaded innocent to misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer after they allegedly attempted to block three megaloads traveling through their city.
Police Chief David Duke said officers arrested Cass Davis, 47, and James Prall, 67, Sunday night after they re-entered the northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 95 in Moscow shortly after 11 p.m.
Four protesters – Davis, Prall, and two women – initially entered the roadway in an effort to block the giant Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil refinery equipment modules headed for a tar sands oil extraction project in Canada, Duke said.
“After being told to move, they disregarded the officer’s orders,” Duke said. “When they were attempted to be escorted off the roadway, they sat down and interlinked their arms together.”
Officers removed the four people to the east curb and told them that if they re-entered the highway they would be arrested. Davis and Prall disregarded the order and were taken into custody without further incident, Duke said.
It was the first time either man had been arrested in connection with the megaload protests, Duke said. The two women did not re-enter the highway and were not arrested.
A magistrate judge released Davis and Prall on their own recognizance after their arraignment Monday morning.
Several others have been arrested for similar actions since the oversized transports started rolling through Moscow last year. In September, six men pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges of failure to comply with a peace officer’s traffic direction.
Some protesters have indicated their opposition to the use of Idaho’s roads for the transports, or the fact that the modules were manufactured overseas, instead of in North America. Others have expressed a more fundamental opposition to the use of fossil fuels and the pollution caused by the tar sands project in Alberta.
Duke said about 40 people showed up to protest the megaloads when they passed through Moscow Sunday. Protesters have turned out for virtually every such transport, with crowds consistently between 17 and 20 people, he said.
Two more megaloads – the last currently at the Port of Lewiston – are scheduled to pass through Moscow tonight.
“We’ll be out there like the last 31 times,” Duke said of his public safety patrol that has ushered the loads through town.
(By Joel Mills, The Lewiston Tribune)