Judge fines Roanoke County tree-sitters, orders possibility of arrest

There's a deadline for Red and Minor Terry to leave their positions


ROANOKE, Va. – A federal judge decided on fines and set a deadline that includes the possibility of arrest for members of a Roanoke County family who are protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon released a ruling Friday evening finding that the Terrys are in violation of a January court order, which she also issued.

Theresa “Red” Terry, 61, and her daughter Minor Terry, 30, have spent the last month in covered platforms suspended in trees in two separate locations on the family’s Roanoke County property in Bent Mountain.

Red has been up in the trees since April 2.

Dillon found them and Coles Terry, Red’s husband, in contempt after a Tuesday hearing during which lawyers presented arguments and evidence in Roanoke.

The tree-sitters have until Saturday at 11:59 p.m. to leave their locations in the trees, according to the Friday decision. If they don’t leave, they’ll have to pay a daily $1,000 fine beginning Sunday, and if they stay past May 10 the U.S. Marshals Service will have orders to arrest them.

Dillon does not provide the specific method by which Marshals would arrest the Terrys, but she noted that they are “directed to use reasonable force.”

Dillon ordered Coles Terry to pay a $2,000 fine to MVP. All of the fines will go to Mountain Valley Pipeline to cover its damages.

Roanoke County police said April 18 they will charge Red and Minor Terry with trespassing, obstruction and interference with MVP’s property rights when they come down from their positions.

Roanoke County and state police have been watching over the location around the clock for weeks. 10 News learned Thursday that the two departments have combined spent more than $83,000 on that activity.

Red and Minor Terry have been perched along the pipeline’s projected path since April 2, blocking workers from cutting down trees in the area. Police have not made any attempt to arrest the women.

Dillon also denied the Terrys’ cross-motion to find MVP in contempt.

Mountain Valley got an easement to run the natural gas pipeline through the Terry’s land by using eminent domain. Dillon ruled in January against nearly 300 landowners to allow the project to move forward.

Supporters continued camping this week on the property, which is tucked back in the woods off Poor Mountain Road. Tents line the police tape that surrounds Red Terry’s location. Signs of support and anti-pipeline sentiments surround the area.