The two arrests at Sabal Trail sites over the weekend have received little coverage from the press, even though two news agencies witnessed the incident. Following is an article from the Tues. Dec. 13, 2016 Gainesville Sun, which can be read in its entirety at this URL: http://gainesvillesun.fl.newsmemory.com/default.php?pSetup=gainesvillesun&_ga=1.39849122.1626290264.1445477431
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
SABAL TRAIL PIPELINE
2 arrested at Sabal Trail sites
By Andrew Caplan
Be careful which road you cross in Suwannee and Gilchrist counties. It may just get you arrested.
Josh Peoples, a U.S. Navy veteran, learned the hard way.
Peoples, 26, was arrested just 20 minutes into his first protest after walking across a road in front of a Sabal Trail Transmission construction site Saturday. He was speaking out against the Sabal Trail pipeline — which would stretch 515 miles in Alabama, Georgia and Florida — sporting a cardboard “Vets defend sacred water” sign over his military fatigues.
Peoples was the only one from his group of 25 protesters sent to jail. He said the Florida Highway Patrol wanted to make an example out of him.
Though Peoples said his initial charge was his “failure to obey lawful order,” his arrest report states he was charged with “resisting arrest without violence,” a first-degree misdemeanor. He also said he wasn’t read his Miranda rights until he was on his way to the jail.
Peoples was released from jail about two hours after his arrest and after paying $100 of his $1,000 bond. When he walked out of the Suwannee County jail, the group of fellow supporters greeted him and thanked him for his support.
His court date is set for Jan. 3.
“It’s sad to see that money, it can do such good, but it’s so often the root of so much evil,” Peoples said. “It’s just something that needs to be fixed.”
Over in Gilchrist County, another arrest was made linked to the Sabal Trail pipeline, but not during a protest.
Katherine “KC” Cavanaugh was arrested in Branford while on a excursion to inform others about the pipeline.
Cavanaugh was part of a seven-vehicle caravan that started in Gainesville at 8 a.m. Saturday with plans to visit multiple construction sites. The trip was in part to help a handful of reporters better understand the protesters’ stances on the pipeline.
The journey was cut short after the caravan’s first few stops, however, when the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office.
In a Facebook video taken by Cavanaugh’s passenger, Zane Rubaii, Cavanaugh tells a deputy she has “rights as a citizen” before being arrested. The video picks up halfway into the incident, but those who were with Cavanaugh on Saturday said the deputy asked for her license and registration after stopping her vehicle on a dirt road near the Santa Fe River.
GCSO Capt. Sheryl Brown said Cavanaugh was the only one arrested Saturday because “she was the only person that attempted to leave the scene when the officer tried to conduct his traffic stop.”
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a member of the Sierra Club, was one of the tour guides and said she was disappointed the way Saturday turned out because she informed law enforcement that the group was not protesting.
At the site of the arrest, Malwitz-Jipson said she let a group of reporters out to take pictures of the construction site. She was previously told by the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office that the group was not permitted to park on the side of the road, per Florida statute.
Shortly after, she said, a GSCO officer pulled in front of the group, impeding their path. Brown said the reason for the stop was because the group was blocking the roadway, but Malwitz-Jipson argues it was the other way around.
“They knew we were doing this,” she said. “Not only do we have the reporters but we have eyewitnesses. This was purely educational history. This was not a protest.”
Upon request, Malwitz-Jipson reached for her license to give to an officer. At that time, Cavanaugh was speaking to another officer.
The police report states Cavanaugh was arrested after she tried to leave the traffic stop. She did not comply with the officer who asked her for license and registration, the report states.
“I felt trapped and I felt bullied,” Cavanaugh said. “I think it’s ridiculous. I think they’re creating up laws (that) we’re not allowed to park on roads.”
Cavanaugh was charged with “obstruction of law enforcement without violence” and was released from jail on Sunday without having to pay bail.
Cavanaugh maintains she never refused to give her license and called the entire ordeal unnecessary. She said she thinks the police were angry that they weren’t there before the caravan arrived, as they typically are.
“We were on our way out,” she said. “We were moving. We were on our way to the next sight.” —Contact reporter Andrew Caplan at [email protected] or on Twitter @AACaplan.