Shortly before noon Tuesday, a "fracking" protester who had secured herself to two concrete barrels at an oil and gas waste-water injection well in Alexander Township was separated from the barrels and hauled away by a sheriff's cruiser.
After an appearance in Athens County Municipal Court Tuesday afternoon, protester Madeline ffitch (correct spelling) was released on her own recognizance. She has been charged with inducing panic, a fifth-degree felony.
Ffitch released herself from the barrels around 11:45 after talking to her attorney, Don Wirtshafter, and Athens County Sheriff's Capt. Bryan Cooper. Up until then, law enforcement had been planning to use power tools to remove her from the barrels. The situation attracted a heavy law enforcement presence, with multiple jurisdictions represented on rural Ladd Ridge Road about seven miles southwest of Athens.
Ffitch is a 31-year-old landowners from Dover Township in Athens County. Law enforcement officials have indicated that they may seek reimbursement from her for the cost of their response to her protest. According to Wirtshafter, authorities have indicated that this may be in the neighborhood of $7,500.
After her court appearance, ffitch explained that she had volunteered to be the person who committed civil disobedience to help draw attention to the issue of waste-water injection wells in Athens County.
"I decided to do it because I thought it was important," ffitch said. She added that she was surprised by the massive law enforcement response she triggered.
"I didn't quite expect that to happen, and it was a little bit intimidating," she admitted. She finally chose to unclip herself from the barrels voluntarily, she said, because of the potential charges she was facing, and the possibility that officials would get her arms out of the barrels by smashing the concrete.
"At that point, I was intimidated by the idea of a jackhammer, and I was intimidated by the idea of a felony charge," ffitch said.Read the rest of the article here.
Interesting way for a 31-year old woman to spend an afternoon, isn't it?
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