Masked protesters carrying torches and threatening organized violence protested outside the home of an executive at a major oil pipeline company last week.
Eight environmental activists gathered on the lawn of Mark Maki, a member of the Enbridge Energy Company’s board of directors and president of Enbridge Energy Management, to protest the arrests of three anti-pipeline activists last year.
The protesters, who brandished torches for a photo posted online, held a sign warning, "solidarity means attack" and "we will shut you down."
Maki stepped out of his Houston, Texas, home to talk with the protesters, though he said he was not familiar with their grievances.
"It’s 10 o’ clock at night, I’m happy to discuss it, [but] not here, not in my neighborhood, not with my neighbors around," Maki told them.
As protesters stood on Maki’s lawn, they told him that Enbridge is "criminalizing protest" by testifying against three anti-pipeline activists who were recently convicted of criminal trespassing for chaining themselves to Enbridge construction equipment in July.
"Tell the rest of the [Enbridge] board they can expect visits," one protester at Maki’s house said.
Enbridge did not respond to a request for comment.
Asked which group they belonged to, the protesters said they represented "The People."
"It's not surprising that anti-pipeline extremists are getting physical with their ideology," said Ron Arnold, author of EcoTerror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature.
Many environmentalists see pipeline projects moving forward and are desperate to stop them, explained Arnold, who helped produce a 2008 report on ecoterrorism for the federally funded Terrorism Research Center.
"Most of the 1,200-plus cases I investigated were spurred by eco-thug desperation that they were losing, and logging, mining, oil drilling, ranching, and other basic industries were surviving their noisy sign-waving," he said.
Anti-pipeline activism has recently spurred even nominally mainstream environmental groups to endorse criminal activity.
The Sierra Club, one of the most prominent environmentalist groups in the country, gave its official endorsement last year to acts of civil disobedience as a means to stop the popular Keystone pipeline.
Anti-pipeline activism has become a pillar of the post-Al Gore environmentalist movement, which has found it to be an effective issue around which to rally its supporters.