Pipeline Protesters’ Trespassing Arrests Are First Test of State’s New Felony Law

Pipeline Protesters’ Trespassing Arrests Are First Test of State’s New Felony Law

John Haughey | Louisiana Watchdog

During the 2018 legislative session, Louisiana amended its public assembly laws to avoid the high-profile confrontations between protesters, construction workers and law enforcement officials that unfolded along the Dakota Access Pipeline near Standing Rock, N.D., in 2016.

To do so, state lawmakers adopted House Bill 727, sponsored by Rep. Major Thibaut, D-New Roads.

The bill classifies pipelines as critical infrastructure. Existing state law makes trespassing on critical infrastructure property a felony offense.

HB 727 passed in a 97-3 House vote and a 31-4 Senate vote in May. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill into law shortly after.

That means, as of Aug. 1, trespassing near oil and gas pipelines, and on or near pipeline construction sites, is now a felony offense in Louisiana.

Since then, pipeline opponents say at least 10 activists have been arrested on various charges, including trespassing, while protesting at the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project site and could face possible sentences of up to five years in prison…(Read the full story)

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