Statement from the CCAN Action Fund and Preserve Floyd on Virginia’s State Surveillance of Pipeline Protest Groups
Groups Call on Gov. Northam to Immediately Order the Virginia Fusion Center to End All Surveillance
On Friday, June 1, 2018, the Richmond Times Dispatch revealed that the “Virginia Fusion Center,” a state government network whose mission is to defend the Commonwealth against terrorist threats and deter criminal activity, has instead been using its vital resources to monitor the activities of purely peaceful environmental, social justice, and anti-pipeline groups and then report those activities directly to the developer of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
In response, CCAN Action Fund and Preserve Floyd issued the following statement:
“The documents reported on by the Richmond Times Dispatch reveal that the state is working with EQT, the developer of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, to surveil and monitor purely peaceful groups who support clean energy, work for climate justice, and oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline. This is unacceptable. In our America, you should be able to participate in a protest about an issue you care about without having to worry that government operatives are watching you and reporting your activities directly to a private company that is building an unwanted and unneeded pipeline through Virginians’ waterways, beloved mountains, and treasured forests. Our groups are fiercely dedicated the time-honored tradition of peaceful protest. The idea that our activities, which include prayer vigils, peaceful sit-ins, and music concerts, rise to the level of “violent extremism” would be laughable if it weren’t so chilling. This spying is un-American and an enormous waste of taxpayer money.
“Harm is being inflicted on Virginians, but it’s not from these peaceful groups that work with Virginians to raise concerns about this disastrous pipeline. It’s EQT that is causing the harm. The company proposes to build a dangerous and unnecessary 300-mile-long pipeline that would rip through national forests, tear down pristine mountain ridges, and cross the Appalachian Trail. It’s EQT that is turning landowners into trespassers on their own property by seizing land through eminent domain. It’s EQT’s pipeline that prompted government agents to deny food, water, and medical consultation to pipeline opponents who were peacefully sitting in trees in an attempt to stop the pipeline from tearing through their property and beloved mountains. It’s EQT’s Mountain Valley Pipeline that poses the real threat to Virginians, not our nonviolent organizations.
“We call on Governor Ralph Northam and other relevant state leaders to immediately order the Virginia Fusion Center to end all surveillance of peaceful pipeline protesters. This activity is unacceptable and just further highlights the moral disgrace of the pipeline itself.”