Heather wrote this statement on April 20, before she went into court, knowing there was a good chance she would be going straight to jail from there:
This morning, I am happy to be experiencing the beginning of spring on the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past several months, I’ve come to appreciate the woods and water that make this place — occupied Piscataway territory, also known as Southern Maryland — so unique and precious. I have also started to build relationships with brave and determined inhabitants of Cove Point who have been working tirelessly and wholeheartedly to protect their community from the dangerous and reckless fracked gas export facility that Dominion Cove Point has resolved to build. These protectors want to be able to live their lives without the threat of catastrophic failure of a type of facility that has never before been proposed for such a densely populated area.
The people of Calvert County have found themselves, like many other communities already impacted by the deadly effects of the fracked gas industry, fighting to defend themselves against corporate greed and political corruption. Dominion and the Calvert County powers-that-be are deciding to value money over people, accumulating wealth for themselves while sacrificing the health and safety of the community. Dominion and its hired thugs in the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office should expect continued resistance. Money can’t suppress people fighting for their lives.
I was moved to take escalated action by a desire to act in solidarity with the people of Lusby and Cove Point. I was also moved to act by an awareness that this facility will only exacerbate the crisis of hydraulic fracturing that is poisoning folks who I know and love living throughout the Marcellus Shale. If the LNG Export facility is completed in Cove Point, we will see the violent effects of fracking in Maryland as we have already seen in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Frack pads will continue to explode and off-gas cancerous methane will be released into communities, the pipelines being built across the mid-Atlantic will leak and fail, and Cove Point will live under the specter of catastrophic failure of massive LNG infrastructure. All of this in the name of making corporations and politicians rich.
In taking these actions, I was willingly breaking the law. I hold a lot of privilege in my capacity to do this as a white, college educated, cis-woman who is a legal citizen of the United States. However, what I experienced during my arrest revealed a complete disregard for professional standards, and terrifying capacity for cruelty on the part of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Department. I am an experienced climber, and while the action we took was designed to attract attention, my priority was always to complete this action safely, and I had capacity to do this. The police demonstrated lack of knowledge of the technical elements of our actions, and instead of waiting for skilled emergency personnel from the fire department, made the choice to compromise our and their own safety, all to save some face for Dominion and to assert control over something they weren’t humble enough to handle with care for human life. I also experienced a violent assault during my arrest.
If you are reading this, I am serving time inside the Calvert County Detention Center. I have been prepared to do this, but I believe that jail is never a healthy place for human beings to be. That being said, I believe we have an opportunity to continue to do good work while I am incarcerated. I believe that this outcome provides an opportunity for us to draw attention to and show support for people who are caught up in this criminal injustice system. I believe putting people in cages for illegal acts is often unjust. The system is prejudiced toward putting folks of color and poor people away, and does not actually help rehabilitate people, or make our communities safer. We have also seen heavy handedness and corruption within the police forces of this county. I experienced a physical assault during my arrest. I believe it would be safe to assume that this has also happened to people who have interacted with the police and are incarcerated in Calvert County under “non-political” circumstances. This is an opportunity for us to connect our struggle with other social struggles. I believe our movement will gain strength by recognizing the intersections between corporate greed, environmental devastation, racist and classist policing, and political corruption.
Lots of us have passed briefly through the Calvert County facility, and we have some glimpse of what the environment is like in there. I would ask for your support in working toward a specific goal that we can bring attention to while I am in jail. We would like to put pressure on the facility to change their book policy to let family, friends and other supporters send books through the mail to incarcerated people. Many facilities allow this sort of mail to come in and place some restrictions on this, such as letting people only have two books. I have known any extra books to be able to be held for the person, with the possibility of also adding to the facility’s library. Right now, Calvert County does not allow any books to be sent in, and people have to order books from the library. We don’t know what sort of resources this library actually has, either.
This is the sort of thing that could be different, as every facility can make up its own rules. But they won’t even consider doing more work, or changing this unless we let them know that we care, that folks who are behind bars deserve access to something that could potentially help them. I think it’s hard to argue for not letting people try to educate themselves or provide some relief from the monotony and bleakness of incarceration.
So I am asking you, if you are able, to make phone calls to the detention center, to your county commissioners, to the local newspaper, write a letter to the editor, or post on social media. This is something we can do to help people in a tangible way, and I’d like to use the experience I have opened myself up to when choosing arrestable actions for something positive beyond our specific goals. I hope that you will join me in this work. Here’s a start: Please contact Major Reese, the Calvert County Detention Center Administrator. His number is (410) 535-1600, ext. 8902.
I support the folks from Lusby and Cove Point (and those farther away though intimately connected in the ridges and valleys of the Appalachians and the Marcellus Shale) who are speaking their minds and putting themselves on the line (in all the different ways we confront extraction and export). I look forward to returning to a world bursting with spring, and swimming and celebrating this world with my friends soon, while also remembering those who are still locked away in cages. For all folks to be free to live out their lives in the places they call home, this is why I fight. This world is a gift. Money can’t ever touch that.