A group arrested during a protest against the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the basin will not be prosecuted.
District Attorney Bo Duhe confirmed with KATC that he has declined charges against the people accused of trespassing. Duhe said that some of the property where they were arrested had multiple owners, and some of those owners had granted the protesters access.
Each criminal law has different elements that must be proven, called "elements of the offense." One of the elements of the offense of trespassing is unauthorized entry onto a property. Duhe said that, after several recent court rulings, his review of all the evidence indicated he would not be able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.
"We were waiting on some of the cases that were on-going in the civil arena, to see where they ended up," Duhe said. "That weighed into the evidence in the criminal prosecution. Based upon those rulings, at the end of the day, we felt that the evidence was insufficient to support a criminal charge."
A press release issued on behalf of the protesters said they were "charged with felonies," but they never were. Duhe confirmed he never formally charged them with any crime. They were booked by law enforcement, but that does not constitute "charging." Police can arrest someone, but prosecutors must charge them.
The release discusses the lawsuit that some of the protesters and a journalist who also was arrested have filed against the state's law making protests against pipelines a felony. In May, a federal judge allowed that lawsuit to proceed, but ruled that the property owners could not participate.
In a related case, a court found that the pipeline company was trespassing, the release states.
"Today, we are counting Coup on a trifecta of colonizers. Energy Transfer Partners, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the politicians along with their police forces who viewed our powerful grassroots resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline as a viable threat to their capitalist greed and waged an unjust war to silence us," said Anne White Hat, one of the people arrested under the law. "Louisiana's 'critical infrastructure' law is an attempt to take away our personal freedom along with our constitutional right to protest. I stand proud of our work and am grateful for the countless allies who bravely stepped forward to support the first direct actions to stop oil and gas in the swamps of south Louisiana. Climate change will soon overcome our ability to survive unless we take action to mitigate the root cause, direct or otherwise. We will not stop our work to protect our water for future generations, and we will continue to stand for the rights of Mother Earth, who has no voice and who ultimately has the last say."
Read more about the lawsuit that was filed here.