Twenty-four hours before the cops start to cut them loose, the Westborough 8 are in their Cambridge bunker, going through one final serious meeting. Two National Lawyers Guild attorneys brief the brigade on what to expect, though they can't be sure of everything. The worst possible punishment for misdemeanor trespassing is a year in prison, they say, though that's highly unlikely. Chances are the students will be released on their own recognizance some hours after their anticipated arrest and made to return for arraignment the next morning.

When the lawyers finish speaking, there's a still silence in the air that returns every few minutes for the following hour or so. It's all suddenly real — the chains, the threat of incarceration, the diaper decision. Lisa Purdy, a junior at Brandeis and the most timid of the bunch, is visibly nervous. But Trolio, the resident funnyman, lightens the mood with a joke about possibly peeing himself during the protest. Bolstering the group's spirit, Riester announces that he heard from Storm Chaser, who, as planned, is heading up a separate offensive elsewhere. As they head off to eat a last meal and sleep, spirits are higher than ever.


Riester shuts his eyes tightly as a paramedic saws above his waistline, where authorities jammed a rubber mat between the lock and his shirt. After about 10 minutes of alternating between the power blade and the hydraulic jaws, he's amputated from the group. Comically, as soon as the cops finish sawing off his self-inflicted shackles, they quickly cuff him, and he's led outside at around 4:45 pm. The cop and the EMT removal crew attempt to do the same for Emily Edgerly, a Tufts sophomore and environmentalist who was next to Riester. But the group's preparations have paid off: she's strapped too tightly, and the prospect of cutting them all out seems like it could take hours.

After a quiet huddle out of police earshot, the remaining seven agree to let the cops walk them out. They've made their point; by now, thousands in the outside world — including world-renowned climate-change crusader and founder Bill McKibben — are tweeting in solidarity with the Westborough 8. Still joined at the hip, the protesters twist and flop into the elevator like an overused Slinky, then spiral out the building entrance, speak briefly with reporters, and waddle into the police wagon with the help of aggravated officers. Powell explains why they're in Westborough, despite that office not being directly involved in Keystone XL. Before the doors slam shut, Welton leaves some quotable departing words: "TransCanada has locked us into the climate crisis."


With Riester already there and being questioned, the remaining seven members of the Westborough 8 arrived at the town police station at 5:15 pm, still bound together, after an intimate ride in the back of the transport vehicle. No one peed themselves; but with permission, Edgerly — conveniently stuck at one end of the chain — was allowed to use a toilet at the precinct as the others looked away. A little after 6 pm, Riester called for the keys, and a half hour later, everyone was unchained. The police were happy to get home for dinner, and the gang was stoked to make the evening news and clock headlines in the Boston Globe and elsewhere. They were all released by 9:30 pm.

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Related: W. gets a B, Why so serious?, The Secret Life of Bees, More more >
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