“In August 2018, Louisiana legislators passed a law establishing a new felony charge for anyone who trespasses on critical infrastructure facilities, including chemical manufacturing facilities and oil and gas pipeline construction sites. Over the following couple months, police used the new law to charge 14 people protesting the oil company Energy Transfer’s Bayou Bridge pipeline, as well as a journalist.”
2 close calls:
“Last October, police charged Gregory Manning, the legally blind pastor of Broadmoor Community Church and a member of the Coalition Against Death Alley, with a felony for allegedly inciting a riot. Authorities said Manning failed to immediately leave a hallway outside the office of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry during a protest against the association’s influence over state politics. A prosecutor later dropped all charges.
“This spring, legislators passed an enhanced version of the critical infrastructure law, which would have ramped up charges for trespass during a state of emergency. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the bill.
“To Rolfes and McIntosh’s attorneys, the timing of the latest charges is particularly suspect. on Juneteenth, ... Quigley — Rolfes and McIntosh’s pro bono lawyer ... — received a phone call from a Baton Rouge Police Department detective, notifying him that a warrant was out for the pair’s arrest. Both the activists were en route to a ceremony at a burial site for enslaved people, located in a field where Formosa plans to build one of its facilities. The right to carry out the ceremony had been hard-won: Formosa had fought in court for the past week to prevent community members from holding the gathering. A judge denied the company’s final appeal only the night before. The detective told Quigley that the charges had been filed in April, but they’d held off on issuing the warrant because of risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. “It seems more than a little suspicious that this long dormant warrant was activated 12 hours after Formosa lost in court,” said Quigley. “It seems like it’s clearly retaliation.” “If there’s such a danger, why wait seven months and pick the day of a community celebration of its liberation from slavery to send that message?””