Sixteen interfaith clergy were arrested Wednesday morning in West Roxbury during a protest of the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (WRLP).
The religious leaders, who gathered to pray in front of a gate to the metering and regulating station at 10 Grove St., marched to the pipeline site and stopped construction.
Their group, which grew to nearly 100 participants, prayed and sang, and sat on the edge of the pit where pipeline is being laid until police placed them under arrest for trespassing.
The Rev. Anne Bancroft, a member of Resist the Pipeline and minister of Theodore Parker Church, was among the clergy arrested Wednesday. Bancroft said she has been protesting the WRLP for over a year.
Acknowledging the danger of protesting an active construction site, Bancroft said she felt the group's actions necessary.
"I think many of us wish there was a different way to stop this situation," the minister said. "To a large extent [this protest] is an action of last recourse, that when we feel voiceless or unheard, the only option available is to try to stop construction."
"I think of this struggle as a very spiritual struggle," Bancroft continued. "We're making choices about our relationship with each other and how the earth sustains us. Those are fundamentally spiritual questions."
The controversial pipeline, a project of Spectra Energy, will connect to National Grid’s pre-existing pipeline network to satisfy surging demand for natural gas.
A National Grid spokesman told the Boston Globe that 98 percent of West Roxbury residents have natural gas.
But protestors, including those from Resist the Pipeline, blast Spectra for both local and environmental concerns. The high-pressure pipeline is at risk for explosion, running through residential neighborhoods, past schools and within 100 feet of an active quarry, according to Resist the Pipeline. The group denies National Grid's perceived energy crisis in Massachusetts, as well, and opposes further development of fossil fuel resources and infrastructure.
Bancroft said that this protest, and others she's participated in, was not against construction workers or police officers, but the fracking and natural gas industries, and Spectra.
"Our feeling is that the company that stands to profit hugely from this is Spectra," she said. "I don't know how many of its people would choose to live in this community with a pipeline."
"It's no small surprise that the route that's been chosen [for the pipeline] does not affect the more affluent neighborhoods, but that's not a good reason to put people at risk."