Some 16 clergy members from across the Boston area were arrested this morning on Grove Street in West Roxbury, where they briefly blocked construction work on a high-pressure natural-gas pipeline to protest what they said was an unneeded pipe that could blow up the neighborhood.
Among those arrested in the latest protest against Spectra Energy's gas pipeline and transfer station at Grove and Centre streets were the Rev. Anne Bancroft of West Roxbury's Theodore Parker Church and the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, president of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ:
The morning protests began with prayers and songs outside the gates of the "metering and transfer" station, where the gas will be pumped into National Grid's lower-pressure network. Spectra, building the pipeline for Algonquin Gas Transmission, and National Grid say the pipe will help make National Grid's system more reliable; protesters say National Grid could do that without the pipeline by fixing all the leaks in its existing pipes.
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman of Temple Sinai in Brookline and Roy Einhorn, cantor at Temple Israel in the Fenway, unscrolled a torah, from which Friedman read a passage.
The clergy and supporters - about 75 people in all - then walked down Grove Street to the site where the pipe now ends, about a quarter mile away from the transfer station, in a procession led by Friedman and her ukulele.
Spectra workers radioed ahead to their counterparts, who stopped work as the crowd gatherered. The 16 clergy members then filed into the construction zone and sat down on the lip of the trench in which the pipe is being built (Einhorn stood with his torah scrolls; Gibbons and another minister stood as well).
The clergy led prayers for the pipeline workers, the police and the neighborhood. After a few minutes, a Boston Police sergeant told them they were trespassing and that they had five minutes to leave or they'd be arrested.
None left. Gibbons compared the situation to the fight against the British during the Revolution. "No gassification without representation!" he yelled.
Then, one by one, police arrested the protesters and gently loaded them into two prisoner wagons for the trip up to E-5 for booking.