Oil pipeline protester not backing down

BATTLE CREEK (AP) - A man sentenced to probation for a 10-hour sit-in at an oil pipeline construction site in southwestern Michigan says the date of his trial was significant.

"My trial on Dec. 16 was the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party," Christopher Wahmhoff said. "That was an act of civil disobedience, and I don't think the (American) Revolution would have happened without it."

Wahmhoff, 36, refused to apologize Monday and didn't ask for leniency in Calhoun County court. He was placed on probation, and a 60-day jail sentence was suspended.

The Kalamazoo man was convicted of trespassing and resisting police during his 2013 sit-in inside an Enbridge Inc. pipe under construction in Calhoun County. Wahmhoff also could be ordered to pay thousands of dollars spent by public safety agencies.

"I don't think picketing would have gotten the same attention," he told the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Wahmhoff and his allies are critical of Enbridge, the Canadian company responsible for a pipeline break that released more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River system in 2010.

A judge said Wahmhoff must stay 500 feet away from any Enbridge work site, but the restriction may not deter him.

"This confirmed the need for civil disobedience. I have nothing planned, but I don't see a better way to change the country right now," Wahmhoff said.

Published: Wed, Dec 31, 2014