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Pipeline tree sitters get jail, fines

CHRISTIANSBURG (AP) Two Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters have been sentenced to months in jail and ordered to repay the cost of removing them from tree stands they were chained to along the pipeline’s path.

Montgomery County General District Judge Randal Duncan convicted Alexander Lowe, 24, of Worcester, Massachusetts, and Claire Fiocco, 23, of Dorset, Vermont, on May 5 of obstructing justice and interfering with Mountain Valley’s property rights, The Roanoke Times reported.

Fiocco, who occupied a tree from early January until March 23, was sentenced to 158 days. Lowe was sentenced to 254 days after occupying a tree from November until state police removed him on March 24.

Later in the day, the pair appeared before Circuit Judge Robert Turk, who had ordered them down from the trees. Turk fined Lowe $17,500 and Fiocco $10,000 for defying his order. He also ordered them to pay more than $140,000 to Mountain Valley to cover the cost of extracting them.

A crane hoisted two state police officers to where the protesters were chained on wooden platforms about 50 feet above the ground.

“I appreciate the passion you had in your protests,” Turk told them before they were taken away. “You just did it the wrong way.”

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