Foes of Megaloads Face the Music

Helen Yost

MOSCOW – The last megaloads have reportedly passed through downtown here, leaving behind 11 misdemeanor court cases against people who protested shipment of infrastructure equipment to Canadian oil fields.

Last to plead innocent to two allegations was Helen Yost, 54, of Moscow. Yost, spokeswoman for Wild Idaho Rising Tide and an organizer of the months-long protests, appeared in Latah County Court here Wednesday morning.

She is charged with two misdemeanors for allegedly throwing a sign at a megaload and attempted battery of a Moscow police officer. She and two other demonstrators, Cass Davis, 47, and James Prall, 67, both of Moscow, have pretrial conferences set for April 3, according to court records.

Davis and Prall were arrested March 4 during a protest and charged with resisting, or obstructing police for allegedly refusing to stay out of the roadway when oversize loads were moving through town on Washington Street. Yost received citations for her actions two nights later, after she publicly admitted that she threw a sign and “air-kicked the transports and their police escorts out of town.”

Davis and Prall are represented by Dana M. Johnson of Idaho Legal Aid Service Inc., and the Northern Rockies Justice Center. Latah County Public Defender Charles Kovis has been assigned to represent Yost.

It remains unclear whether any of the three cases are destined for trial. Yost said a test case, during which the issue of continued oil consumption could be aired, might be a goal of the demonstrators.

Eight other Moscow residents who were arrested and charged in connection with the protests pleaded guilty to reduced charges and paid fines, according to court records. They include Mitchell Day, 40, Gregory Freistadt, 27, William A. French, 55, Brett Haverstick, 38, Zachary Johnson, 33, Aaron Malgren, 23, Vincent Murray, 62, and David Willard, 53.

Malgren and Johnson were arrested October 6 and charged with resisting or delaying officers by riding their bicycles on the roadway. They pleaded guilty to reduced charges of failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and were fined $56.50, according to court records.

Day, Freistadt, Haverstick, Murray and Willard were initially charged with disturbing the peace and refusing to obey police orders to disperse on August 26, when a number of protesters sat down, joined arms and attempted to stop passage of the megaloads through town. They all pleaded guilty to reduced charges of failure to comply with a police officer’s traffic directions and were fined $240, according to court records.

French pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of failure to obey a police order and entered a no-contest plea to a charge of malicious injury to property. In addition to joining attempts to block passage of the megaloads in the streets, French was charged with kicking the window out of a police van after being arrested, according to records. He was ordered to pay a total of $1,039 in fines and restitution, according to records. He was granted a withheld judgment, given a suspended jail sentence of 30 days and placed on unsupervised probation until May 3, 2012, according to records.

The ExxonMobil megaloads, through subsidiary Imperial Oil, continue to be transported via several routes to the Kearl oil sands in Alberta, Canada.

(By David Johnson, The Lewiston Tribune)

Accuracy Matters

Incorrect affiliation

Cass Davis and James Prall are represented by Dana M. Johnson of the Northern Rockies Justice Center.  An incorrect affiliation for Johnson was included in a Friday story on megaload protesters.

(By The Lewiston Tribune, Saturday, March 24, 2012, 10:40 am)

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