• Arrests made during Arkansas Diamond Pipeline protest

    By: Zach Crenshaw


    Two people were arrested Monday for chaining themselves to construction equipment in Arkansas.

    The arrests signal the beginning of what could be a long battle over a pipeline project spanning much of the Mid-South.

    The pipeline's crude oil will end up at the Memphis Valero Refinery after running 440 miles, starting in Oklahoma and running through Arkansas.

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    In quiet Forrest City, Arkansas, the Diamond Pipeline construction site was the site of some tension.

    Two protesters snuck into the site and locked themselves under one of the track-hoes. After being asked to leave and refusing, they were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.

    "We asked them to move but they wouldn't, so we placed them under arrest," said Gene Wingo, Chief Deputy with the St. Francis County Sheriff's Department.

    Amber Stolebarger and Frank Klein were both booked into the county jail, posted their $1,000 bonds, and were given citations.

    They expected that, as Monday was the unofficial start of Arkansas Rising, a group aimed at halting the Diamond Pipeline, at least temporarily.

    "We are hoping that we can get them to take on the full environmental impact statement here," said Scott Banbury, who works with the Tennessee Sierra Club.

    The Diamond Pipline LLC emailed FOX13 the statement regarding the protest:

    "We respect the rights of individuals to voice their opinion regarding this project, but we are opposed to actions that break the law and threaten the safety of our workers, the public or the jobsite. In these situations, we will work with area law enforcement to address the issue."

    Scott Banbury opposes the pipeline, and believes the oil and gas industry is over building pipelines.

    "Rather than slow down on the production of it and conserve the resource they're moving as quickly as they can to get it into international markets," said Banbury. "The faster we burn the stuff, the faster we produce it, the more damage we are doing to ourselves in terms of climate change. But also the longer we are putting off the investments we need to make in solar, wind and energy conservation."

    As the sun set on Forrest City Monday night, the Arkansas Rising group may have be doing just that, rising.

    "They just said they were just getting started, and that they were going to come back," said Dep. Chief Wingo"If they come back, we will arrest them. That's the bottom line, and they were told that."

    >>Learn more about the Diamond Pipeline 

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