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Red Terry Comes Down From Her Tree to Preach Against Pipelines

Red Terry and her daughter Minor had been living on platforms in the trees for five weeks, hoping to prevent crews from clear-cutting a path for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.  Last week, a judge threatened fines of $1,000 a day, so the two came down, but now they’re on tour, speaking out against the MVP and Governor Ralph Northam. 

A crowd of about fifty supporters gathered on the downtown mall to cheer the Terrys.  61-year-old Red apologized saying she was no public speaker. “I do my best yelling from 30 feet up," she explained, " and most of it has not been pretty.”

She recalled her stay in the forest -- the rain, strong winds, sleet and bitter cold, the inability to take a shower or wash her hair.  But in the end, Red Terry said living in a tree could be great, especially at night when the chorus frogs sing.

“And about ten minutes after the peepers, the whippoorwills would start singing.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven," she says."

Which is why she wouldn’t even consider offers from the pipeline builders to purchase a 14 acre easement through the mountain in her back yard.

“I said you know this mountain has been in this family for seven generations.  It’s the most beautiful place in the world, and it’s like my fourth child, so what kind of price do you ask for your fourth child?  And he said, “It’s just a mountain,” and I’m like, ‘You’re a dummy.  You have no idea what this mountain is.’”

She blasted those who claim that gas from the Mountain Valley Pipeline would be a public good, making it legal to seize private land through eminent domain.

“There is no need for this pipeline.  It’s all going for export.  There should be no way in hell that they take people’s land for their profit.” 

And she was frankly terrified by the remote prospect of an explosion on the line.

"If this exploded like several others have, then it would take out a 2.5 mile radius.  That’s everybody on the mountain – my entire family, all of my neighbors, animals, pets, cattle.  The government should not have that kind of power to plant bombs in people’s yards.  Ya know do I come home every night and go, ‘Oh God, please let me live through another day,” or ‘Please let me be up here when it everybody dies.’  I don’t want to be the one getting the news everybody is dead.”

Terry said she would have stayed in the trees longer, but a judge ruled she was breaking the law and threatened to fine her a thousand dollars a day.

“Which would go to MVP, and if it didn’t get results, they could up those fines to $10,000 a day if they wanted to, and I don’t want give MVP another cent.”

And the judge warned that she could be arrested.

“The U.S. Marshals would be there.  They would start their spot lights, feeding me one meal a day, torturing me, and if I didn’t come down they would extract me.”

The thought of being evicted from her own property made red furious.  She knew she would fight back, be charged with assaulting law enforcement officers and be sentenced to prison.  Instead, she decided to come down and begin a speaking tour, hoping to stir more opposition to the MVP and Atlantic Coast Pipeline and to inspire Governor Northam to stop them.

And then it was on to Buckingham, Chesterfield, and Northern Virginia with a stop in Richmond tomorrow to confront those attending Dominion’s annual shareholder meeting.  

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief
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