When the Gas Industry Uses the State Police to Silence a Citizen: Intelligence Officer at My Door


by Wendy Lynn Lee / The Wrench

I was brushing my teeth, and getting kidney meds into my cat, Switch, when I heard my three dogs going nuts downstairs.

I jostled down the stairs, wiping toothpaste off my face to attend to the rapping, and the doggies.

There was a man at the door.

I thought it was a Jehovah Witness, so I was wondering whether to make coffee.

I arrived at the door, signaled to the fellow–who I could now see was holding out a badge–that I needed to get my dogs outside. ‘Barky, not bitey,” I believe I said.


The man’s name is MIKE HUTSON, Pennsylvania State Police, Intelligence Unit, Williamsport Office.

He was investigating reports of “vandalism” at unspecified compressor station locations, and he had with him a copy of the excellent Jeremy Alderson’s Fall/Winter (2.2) Edition of the NO FRACK ALMANAC (http://www.nofrackalmanac.com/downloads/volume2_2.pdf).

He wanted to know about the pictures–the ones I have included here.

He wanted to know about the activists in the anti-fracking movement–and whether or not “they” commit acts of vandalism and/or violence.

He wanted me to give him names of “bad apples.”


I know of no such “apples.”

So, I scoffed.

Such a notion–as I made very clear to Mr. Hutson–is preposterous.

I reminded him of the activism of Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchu, Aung San Suu Kyi , Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King, and made very clear that these were our heros.

I mentioned Socrates who was willing to die for what he stood, and that he was executed for daring to question authority.

In fact, if there’s to be a discussion of violence, I said, he’d be far better to investigate the industry. It will use whatever it can to silence us–and that is what brought the state police–an intelligence unit in a big black window-tinted van–to my door in rural Pennsylvania.

Many of us in this movement spend time wondering if we are surveilled. We try to avoid paranoia–all the while we know that, given the immense power and money at stake, this is an industry that does not conceive of the law as anything other than either a nuisance or a weapon to cast legitimate exercise of free speech as “eco-terrorism.”

We see that everyday in its flagrant flouting of environmental, safety, and zoning law, and in it’s liberal use of retired intelligence agents to harass, follow, surveil, and intimidate us.

Many of us have experienced vandalism clearly intended to silence our voices.

I used to wonder if I was surveilled, if my phone was tapped.

Now when I call my mom, I say into the phone that the agent listening might as well go get donuts.


Now I have the state police intelligence unit at my door.

What more effective way to intimidate a movement activist than to make up a complaint about “vandalism” at “compressors” that will get the police to her door?

But I have a message for this industry:


Here’s the good news:

First, I got nothin’ to hide. In fact, I’ll bet that makes the industry even more nervous. I’m a mommy and a professor with some goddamn convictions, a steady paycheck, and a deep sense of duty to my four kids.

Doesn’t get more ferocious than that.

Second, as a movement, we must be making some real headway for the industry to go to all the trouble to fake a vague charge against some unspecified folks in order to get an intel-officer dispatched on the tax payer ‘s dime and time to the door of an activist with no arrest record, no history of violence.

What she’s got is a raft-load of knowledge about an industry that ought to be criminalized, a capacity to write down what she knows, a good camera, and some guts.

And she’s keeping all four.

Wendy Lynne Lee
Shale Justice

All photographs: Wendy Lynne Lee, taken with a Nikon, and a telephoto lens on PUBLIC ROADS.

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