Story at a glance
- Anne Rolfes and Kate McIntosh, both environmental activists with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, turned themselves into the Baton Rouge Police Department Thursday.
- Rolfes was arrested on a charge of terrorizing, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while McIntosh is charged with principal to terrorizing.
- The ACLU called the charges a violation of the First Amendment.
Two Louisiana environmental activists are facing felony charges related to a nonviolent form of protest, in which they left a box of plastic pellets called nurdles on the doorstep of a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry in December, according to NOLA.com
Anne Rolfes and Kate McIntosh, both environmental activists with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, turned themselves into the Baton Rouge Police Department Thursday. Rolfes was arrested on a charge of terrorizing, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while McIntosh is charged with principal to terrorizing.
In 2019, Formosa Plastics agreed to pay $50 million in a settlement after it was accused of violating the Clean Water Act by discharging the plastic pellets into Texas-area bays near its plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
On Dec. 11, the two advocates reportedly left a box full of the pellets found in the bays on the doorstep of lobbyist Tyler Gray.
The package had a note attached to it saying the plastic pellets should not be removed from their packaging, left around children or pets and should be recycled responsibly.
“These are just some of the billions of nurdles that Formosa Plastics dumped into the coastal waters of the state of Texas,” the note read according to NOLA.com.
Police told the news outlet officers contacted a hazmat team to handle the package and the team found the package contained trash and plastic. The attached note prompted the terrorizing charges.
“It was obvious that by indicating the contents of the container were hazardous that the individuals were attempting to cause the home owners to be in fear for their safety to intimidate the home owner,” an April affidavit supporting an arrest warrant for the two women read.
Police said it took so long to arrest the pair because they wanted to respect the investigative process and the coronavirus pandemic had delayed the investigation.
The attorney representing the two women said the charges have zero legal merit.
“They do not even pass the laugh test,” Pam Spees, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, told NOLA.com. “We ask the district attorney to look carefully at these arrests and reject the charges against these two dedicated advocates as soon as possible.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana also slammed the charges against Rolfes and McIntosh, calling them a violation of the First Amendment.
“These trumped up charges are a brazen threat to the First Amendment rights of activists who have been peacefully and courageously speaking out against the environmental racism and injustice being perpetrated by the petrochemical industry in Cancer Alley,” Alanah Odoms Herbert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director, said in a statement.
Odoms called for the charges to be dropped immediately.
Rolfes and McIntosh were released from jail Thursday after posting $5,000 bonds.