Charges dismissed for We Are Seneca Lake protesters

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Mar 192015

Judge Raymond Berry dismissed all charges against the 42 protesters, according to a news release from We Are Seneca Lake.

People from all over the region have held ongoing protests at the gates of Crestwood Midstream in the Town of Reading Schuyler County for about five months. Protesters have included local winemakers, teachers, students and musicians.

According to We Are Seneca Lake, in an agreement with the Schuyler County District Attorney’s office, the charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct will also be dismissed against about 100 additional people whose cases were pending.

In the past, protesters have criticized Berry for handing down maximum sentences.

The defendants who appeared before Berry on Wednesday submitted an oral motion asking for their charges to be dismissed. Their statement read:

“We only have this planet. We must safeguard it for those who follow. Would that it not be necessary, but sometimes citizens of good conscience must engage in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to protect that sacred trust. As long as Crestwood Midstream Partners, or any other corporate or public or private entity, continues to threaten our way of life by the proven dangerous storage of highly compressed gas in the crumbling caverns at the Salt Point facility, I reserve the right to act as my conscience dictates in order to protect Seneca Lake, its citizens, and the surrounding environment. I reserve all rights to protest further at the Crestwood facility, although it is not my intent at this time to break the law in doing so.”

Assistant District Attorney John Tunney expressed his willingness to accept a motion to dismiss after each recitation, members of We Are Seneca Lake stated.

Sujata Gibson, a defense attorney who has worked with the protesters since December, said the motion dismissals were a historic move that affirms the importance of the protesters.

“We’ve seen a sea change in the way the court and the prosecutors have reacted to our cases — from maximum sentences for jail terms for trespassing violations to large-scale offers to support dismissals in the interests of justice. This is a testament to the sincerity and passion of the protesters,” Gibson stated in a press release.

Protesters that had motions dismissed Wednesday:

Judy Abrams, 66, Trumansburg, Tompkins County;

Edgar Brown, 60, Naples, Ontario County;

Carolyn Byrne, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County;

Deborah Cippola-Dennis, 49, Dryden, Tompkins County;

Joanne Cippola-Dennis, 53, Dryden, Tompkins County;

Lyndsay Clark, 53, Springwater, Livingston County;

James Connor, 83, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County;

Doug Couchon, 64, Elmira, Chemung County;

Kim Cunningham, 58, Naples, Ontario County;

John Dennis, 63, Lansing, Tompkins County;

Michael Dineen, 65, Ovid, Seneca County;

Peter Drobney, 56, Corning, Steuben County;

Martha Ferger, 90, Dryden, Tompkins County;

Richard Figiel, 68, Hector, Schuyler County;

Carrie Fischer, 38 Fayette, Seneca County;

Kenneth Fogarty, 75, Guilford, Chenango County;

Lynn Gerry, 58, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County;

Heather Hallagan, 41, Meckenburg, Schuyler County;

Carey Harben, 47, Hector, Schuyler County;

Nancy Kasper, 56, North Rose, Wayne County;

Sharon Kahkonen, 65, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County;

Crow Marley, 55, Hector, Schuyler County;

Faith Meckley, 20, Geneva, Ontario County;

Kelly Morris, 55, Danby, Tompkins County;

Paul Passavant, 48, Geneva, Ontario County;

Kirsten Pierce, 44, Burdett, Schuyler County;

Mariah Plumlee, 35, Covert, Seneca County;

Leslie Potter, 70, Big Flats, Chemung County;

Dan Rapaport, 54, Newfield, Tompkins County;

Stephanie Redmond, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County;

Rick Rogers, 66, Spencer, Tioga County;

Cat Rossiter, 62, Sayre, Bradford County;

Laura Salamendra, 30, Geneva, Ontario County;

Coby Schultz, 54, Springwater, Livingston County;

Elan Shapiro, 67, Ithaca, Tompkins County;

Brion Seime, 42, Newfield, Tompkins County;

Stefan Senders, 55, Hector, Schuyler County;

Audrey Southern, 31, Burdett, Schuyler County;

Chris Tate, 52, Hector, Schuyler County;

John Wertis, 51, Wertis, Trumansburg, Tompkins County;

Dwain Wilder, 75, Rochester, Monroe County;

Ruth Young, 77, Horseheads, Chemung County.

Follow Kelsey O’Connor on Twitter @ijkoconnor.