Monday night football games usually aren’t considered crazy events, but two environmental activists made sure that the Nov. 2 game between the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts was out of the ordinary.
The activists rappelled from the press box at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and proceeded to unfurl a giant banner during the televised NFL game which read “BOA: Dump Dominion.”
Four activists were arrested after the incident: David Baghdadi, 38, from North Carolina; John Nicholson, 29, from Pennsylvania; Erica Madrid, 35, from Washington; and Angela Vogel, 35, from Pennsylvania. All four people were charged with second-degree trespassing, resisting a public officer, and dropping objects at a sporting event. All charges are misdemeanors and each activist was held at $1,500 bail.
The activists were protesting a highly controversial natural gas project in Lusby, Maryland which would use hydraulic fracturing — more commonly known as “fracking” — to retrieve gas from deep below the Earth’s surface. Fracking itself is very controversial and poses a number of environmental hazards, even though the natural gas and oil industry provides nearly 10 million jobs.
Monday night’s banner was the work of an organization called We Are Cove, reported NBC News and the Baltimore Sun. “BOA,” standing for the Bank of America, is financing the Lusby project for a Richmond-based energy company called Dominion.
If Dominion receives federal approval for the project, it will be allowed to source natural gas, via fracking, at its Cove Point plant in Lusby. As Southern Maryland News Net stated, Bank of America underwrote $275 million in June 2013 for the Cove Point facility, and it’s one of several banks that is lending Dominion a collective $4 billion to finance natural gas projects.
We Are Cove is just one activist group that is asking lending institutions to stop financing fracking projects, and it’s not out of the ordinary for these environmental groups to take drastic measures in order to nab national media coverage.
Although Bank of America did not comment on Monday night’s banner incident, the activists from We Are Cove had already prepared statements.
“Bank of America is allowing companies like Dominion to operate without checks and balances. They are giving money directly to Dominion with full knowledge of the health and safety risks of building an LNG export facility, and they need to be accountable to that,” said Nicholson.
“America doesn’t need more cheap fuel on the market, and we especially don’t need to export those resources overseas,” Madrid said. “Bank of America is financing the Cove Point LNG plant, and the surrounding community in Southern Maryland is forced to bear the human cost.”