It takes less than two minutes for the squad to fully lock into formation in the TransCanada office in Westborough, Massachusetts. As added insurance, each of them twists open a tube of super glue, slathers the adhesive on their palms, and joins hands with their arms across their chests. A TransCanada employee stares perplexedly at the protesters, tells them that he called the cops, and politely asks everyone to unlock. Devyn Powell, a 20-year-old Tufts junior who has been appointed the group's spokesperson, draws her line in the sand: "This isn't against anyone in this office, but we're not leaving until they stop the pipeline."
The first cop arrives on the scene 10 minutes into the disturbance, and he is not amused. As he paces around the protest circle, explaining the concept of private property, he racks his brain for some solution to the unprecedented conundrum before him — they don't get too many glue-ins around these parts. A few minutes pass, and a second officer arrives, followed by the Westborough chief of police and, minutes later, a fire truck. Even with all the king's horses and all the king's men, though, the first responders call for an outside locksmith.
In the meantime, since one cop failed to separate the protesters with sheer force — by attempting to pry their hands apart — the medics move to unseal the glue in a more delicate manner. By scraping and peeling, they manage to eradicate most of the gobs, and erode whatever's left with swabs soaked in nail-polish remover. Once the protestors are unglued, about an hour and a half into the fray, additional help arrives. Like the cops who called him, the locksmith appears anything but thrilled to be there; he puts his tools down anyway, and begins to drill the ankle lock on UNH senior Ben Trolio.
In a 10-minute shower of sparks, the locksmith manages to free everyone's legs using the same technique — but that's the easy part. Someone still has to crack through eight $100 "New York Fahgettaboudit" locks, made of case-hardened, triple-heat-treated boron manganese steel. The manufacturer, Kryptonite, is so sure of the impenetrability of their locks, they'll replace your bike if the product is compromised. Faced with that challenge, the locksmith gives up and takes off.
NEXT UP: PORTLAND
The gang has so far raised more than $2000 — for bail commission fees, fines, and other expenses — through their website. As they await their court date, they've been speaking out about their January 7 shake-up. This Saturday, January 26, they'll align with 350 New England and other activist groups in Portland, for a protest against ExxonMobil's Northeastern tar-sands pipeline.
Read the full account, and updates, here.