New England Yearly Meeting

A community of Quakers and Quaker meetings across New England.

Quakers part of Aug 12th action to stop pipeline in Massachusetts

Aug 21, 2016
submitted by Mary Gilbert, Friends Meeting at Cambridge

by Minga Claggett-Borne, Friends Meeting at Cambridge

FOR THREE OF US going down into the trench built by Spectra Gas in West Roxbury, Mass., was an act of prayer. Yes, it was a prayer for God’s justice. Yes, it was a prayer to save our grandchildren. And it was a prayer for the grandchildren of oil rig workers, for the grandchildren of the police that arrested us. The action on August 12 was initiated by our climate justice affinity group. Three of the seven arrested are Quakers: Patti Muldoon, Diana Lopez and Minga Claggett-Borne.

Our motorcade of three cars drove up to the pipeline on Centre Street. Bill said, "Go now!" We squirmed out of our seats, six car doors slammed, and we headed for the backhoe and trucks surrounding the trench. In my pocket was a drivers license, a wrist band to wear when they handcuffed me, and a prayer of, "Let me be God's hands and feet." I wore a shirt from my Mom who often reminded me not to be sassy, and carried flowers from Patti's garden to remind me that we want a growing, blooming planet. We offer petals not pipelines on our city streets. We want plants and lifelines, not death-dealing gases.

When I crossed the orange barrier, and looked into that deep ditch, my heart stopped. I was told it was eight feet deep, but this stretch of the pipe was about 12 feet deep. My round, short body would not jump. I considered holding onto the edge and swinging down. Ugh. I was no trapeze artist, but I wanted to put myself as a shield to stop or at least draw attention to this evil endeavor. I was determined that God's light would shine in that dark place. With some finesse (holy intervention) I landed on top of the 18-in gas cylinder and stayed there. Others joined me. Patti and I lay with our backs on the steel pipe itself.

What is it like to lay down on top of something that is sucking our taxes, for something the people don't want, spewing poisons into the air, endangering the residents with possible explosions (like in Calif., and Pa.), and putting myself at the construction of something condemning the biosphere?

It felt good. I was content. Diana called for a song, and we sang loud and sweetly. "We are the tide that is rising.... We are angry and yet gentle.... We will not turn back. ... Amazing Grace ... We will show our children courage..." We spoke our truth and read statements:

“I am a mother; I have made a commitment to protect life and prevent death. I want to stop the Spectra pipeline which is in this community. I ask that we stop raping our Mother Earth who is a miraculous balance of physics and chemistry…”

This pipeline is an outrage—a poison arrow for our country. Citizens of Massachusetts have voted to stop global warming and our carbon emissions, to sustain life on this planet. The West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline must stop, and I with my body plan to obstruct it. I call upon William Yardley, the executive of Spectra, and Dan Seavers, the CEO of National Grid, to reconsider the expansion of methane in our country. "This is your day of reckoning: You need to stop destroying our health and the future of the planet."

I tried to stay close to the root, and not be distracted by the yelling, sirens, firemen and flashing lights. One man surly tossed out, "You all are just wasting all of our time and money." I retorted, "I think Spectra building this pipeline is the huge waste." Pam told me to stay calm, these workers are not the enemy. I was thankful for the reminder to stay close to the root of love in this action.

Diana spoke cheerfully with the police, speaking to a few of them in Spanish. During the handcuffing the police were respectful.

Diana asked the policewoman taking our fingerprints if she'd be in the same cell as everyone else and the police replied, "No, you each get your own personal accommodation." (They both chuckled.) “Not for this I'm not.”

May our witness bear fruit for shutting down methane pipelines! Make room for a new day with a better power source.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

901 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602

(508) 754-6760 - [email protected]