Final protester in Diboll area climbs out of tree

Michael Stewart (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Michael Stewart (Source: Angelina County Jail)

After a standoff which included staying in a tree overnight in near-freezing rain, the final person protesting the Keystone XL pipeline climbed down around 9:15 a.m. Friday.

Sheriff Greg Sanches said, "Both protesters were on private property and the owners did not want people on their property like that, so yesterday we were able to get the lady down. As of today the man that was up in the tree came down on his own."

Deputies with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office arrested Michael Stewart, 25, of Lakewood, Colo. He will be charged with criminal mischief.


Photos from Diboll pipeline protest

Stewart had been in a platform in a tree several miles south of Diboll off of US 59. Audrey Campbell, 22, of Boulder, Colo., was in a tree in the area but surrendered to authorities Thursday night.

Stewart and Campbell were protesting the Keystone XL pipeline and were attempting to keep construction workers from doing their work by being human obstacles.

Sanches said a lot of planning and money was invested in the arrest of these protesters.

"Any time there's an event like this it costs time and money. So, we had to kind of plan for that. This went real well, "Sanches said. "We had a lot of agencies involved, which helped with that and a lot of volunteers as well. And also when it comes to the safety we also sit back and plan for that. We put a lot of thought into it because we don't want our people getting hurt as well as we don't want any of the protesters getting hurt."

Several agencies and volunteers were on scene all day Thursday and Friday morning during the stand off.

"The sheriff's department was the lead agency on it, but then you had Texas Department of Public Safety, game wardens were out there, constables were out there, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission was out here, volunteers, Lufkin city fire department, and the list goes on," Sanches said.

He said each agency was helpful with making sure everyone stayed safe especially during the arrest of the four men who were arrested Thursday.

Gerald Sproehlich, 23, of Sheboygan, Wisc., was arrested at the scene and charged with evading arrest and detention and criminal trespass. Sproehlich appeared in the county court-at-law's jail call Friday, but he couldn't make a plea because officials didn't have any paperwork on him.

Dakoda Nikalie Benson, 21, of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Patrick William Boyle, 30, of Denver, were arrested for evading arrest and detention. They were bonded out of jail Friday.

Another man, Murtaza Nek, 25, was arrested at the scene and charged with interfering with public duties. During the jail call, Nek pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The standoff began Thursday morning.

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