Calvert Prosecutor Not Proceeding With Charge Against Carling Sothoron

PRINCE FREDERICK, MD — Monday, charges for a false statement to an officer were placed on an inactive docket for a Baltimore educator and activist associated with SEED (Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction). Carling Sothoron filed a complaint with the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) in May stating that officers had created unsafe conditions during her arrest at a protest on Dominion property earlier this year.

Sothoron was one of two activists protesting Dominion’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project at Cove Point, Maryland, on February 3 when she hung a banner reading “Dominion Get Out” from a crane at a construction site for the terminal. During her removal, a Calvert County Sheriff’s Officer dangerously pulled on the rope from which she was suspended. Another officer climbed the crane without proper safety equipment or climb training, putting the safety of both himself and Sothoron at risk. The Sheriff’s Office decided to press charges against Sothoron for filing a complaint about the incidents.

“These charges are part of a pattern of intimidation against people opposed to Dominion’s fracked gas refinery [and] LNG export facility. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office is complicit with Dominion,” said Tracey Eno, a Cove Point resident and member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community.

The other activist involved in the same protest, Heather Doyle, has also been charged with making a false statement to an officer after she filed a complaint regarding physical assault that she experienced during her arrest. Her trial is set for mid-January.

“It’s a sad state of affairs that Dominion has so much sway over my county that people can improperly face multiple charges for the same thing just because Dominion wants to try to silence dissent. These two already went through the legal system for their action against Dominion. These extra charges are being brought purely to send a message to not get in Dominion’s way of its profits,” said Donny Williams, a Lusby resident and member of We Are Cove Point.

In 2015, Dominion paid $1.24 million dollars to Calvert County’s public safety fund, which is 40 percent of the annual revenue for the Sheriff’s Office. Dominion also has contracts with 10 CCSO officers to act as private security for its project. It is clear that the state’s attorney and CCSO are being pressured by Dominion to pursue these charges against the fracking protesters.

“I’m not surprised that this is the kind of lengths that they would go to discredit people who are working to protect this community. It’s actually a testament to the fact that the tactics that people are taking on the ground against natural gas infrastructure are working. We only see this kind of pressure on activists when the industry is threatened, and I think that’s a sign that what we’re doing is being effective,” said Whitney Whiting of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Please continue to support both Carling and Heather’s fight against their charges by going to SEED’s legal support page.

About SEED: SEED is a group based in the mid-Atlantic working against energy projects, including LNG exports, fracking, compressor stations, gas pipelines and coal exports, which are harming residents in the region. SEED has been organizing to stop the Cove Point LNG export facility and to support the residents who are being impacted by this project.

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