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Cove Point protester busted on drug charges

Lusby, MD – While the May 30 march from Solomons to Cove Point Park to protest a massive construction project at a nearby gas plant came off without a major hitch, the day after did not go well, sources close to the story reported.

According to Donny Williams of Lusby, an organizer with We Are Cove Point, several individuals planning to walk on Cove Point Beach Sunday, May 31 were stopped and harassed by deputies from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office. One individual was arrested on drug charges.

The construction project at Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant started late last year, shortly after receiving final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The $3.8 billion project is for the construction of a liquefaction unit at the plant, which would enable Dominion to export natural gas to foreign countries via its offshore Chesapeake Bay terminal.

While Williams indicates the confrontation with deputies was improper, Captain Steve Jones told a slightly different story. Jones said the vehicle bearing Pennsylvania tags “was driving around aimlessly,” arousing law enforcement’s suspicions.

“We missed a turn and pulled over to call someone to make sure we knew where to go,” said Williams, who added an officer, Dfc. Sloane “followed us in his patrol car, put on his lights to turn this into a traffic stop and told us we were being detained because we didn’t ‘belong’ in Cove Point. He did this while wearing a badge around his neck that identified him as a Dominion contractor. We told him we were guests of a resident of Cove Point Beach but he seemed determined to find something to pin on us.”

Williams said eventually about 10 officers and Dominion’s head of corporate security showed up at the scene. In addition to the vehicle he was traveling in, Williams said another vehicle with out-of-state tags was also pulled over and searched.

A K-9 search of one of the vehicles yielded a pill bottle with prescription medicine in it. The woman who owned the bottle—identified in court documents as Kaitlyn Anne Rorke, 29 of Baltimore—told officers the drugs were hers but was unable to produce proof the pills had been legally prescribed. Rorke was arrested and charged with two counts of controlled dangerous substance possession, despite her offers to make contact with individuals who could verify the pills had been lawfully prescribed.

Williams said Rorke was released around 2 p.m. that day following a hearing with a court commissioner. A district court hearing on the charges is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 4 at 1 p.m.

“They [deputies] had found something to pin on the anti-Dominion protesters—who were trying to do something as non-threatening as a walk on Cove Point Beach,” said Williams. “And they were going to stick with that, however flimsy or without merit it might be.”

No other arrests were made.

“I wish they had told me about Sunday’s event,” said Jones, who explained the beach walk protest was something about which law enforcement had received no heads-up. “We didn’t know what to expect. Had we known we could have helped them.”

Jones indicated there had been a spirit of cooperation the previous day when an estimated150 to 200 individuals marched from the entrance of Dominion’s temporary pier in Solomons to Cove Point Park in Lusby in a show of opposition to the liquefaction project. As the facilitator for the planned protest march, Jones said he made sure emergency medical personnel would be available to render aid.

“There were no issues,” said Jones of the Saturday event.

While Jones acknowledged there was nothing illegal or improper about walking on the beach, which does provide access to the bay edge area in front of the LNG plant, negotiating some of the parcel could be hazardous to anyone unfamiliar with the area.

“Overall, police treating people like this simply because they are suspected of having concerns with Dominion export terminal project should not be tolerated,” said Williams. “Calvert County is not a colony of Dominion, nor should it be—and it feels increasingly like it is.”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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