In 40-degree weather, about 20 protesters in Gainesville huddled together under overcast skies to protest a pipeline set to run through Alachua County.
The demonstration, held on the corner of Northwest 34th Street and West University Avenue, aimed to bring attention to the construction of the Sabal Trail pipeline, a natural-gas pipeline set to run through Alabama, Georgia and Florida after its completion in March 2017, according to the Sabal Trail Transmission website.
As it passes underneath Alachua County, near Newberry and Bronson, the pipeline may threaten residents’ drinking water, said Justin Goldsman, an event organizer and UF master’s student.
Goldsman, who also protested at Standing Rock Indian Reservation against the Dakota Access pipeline, said the cold weather on the Gainesville street corner was nothing compared to that of North Dakota, where protesters were at one point hosed down to persuade them to leave the construction site.
Goldsman said residents of the county cannot ignore the Sabal Trail’s construction much longer.
“We can only make excuses for so long,” the 23-year-old said.
The protesters cheered as honking cars passed by.
Jane McNulty, 59, kept her dog Katy, 13, in a stroller surrounded by blankets. At one point, when a car passed and someone yelled out, “Make America great,” McNulty laughed it off and shook her head.
“This isn’t political,” the Gainesville resident said. “I would have been out here regardless of who became president.”
Stephanie Salagan, 35, who attended the protest, left her home in Montreal to warn people about fracking and pipelines. She said she was living in Canada in 2013 when a train carrying gas exploded in Quebec, killing 47 people and polluting the water.
“You have to act now before it’s too late,” Salagan said.
At the end of the day, remaining protesters walked to the 34th Street Wall and painted, “No more pipelines” in sky blue capital letters. Even as it began raining, Goldsman, enthusiastic to paint on the wall for the first time, said he hoped the message he left isn’t washed away or painted over.
“I don’t know if it will do anything,” he said. “I hope it will.”
Jane McNulty, 59, and her dog, Katy, 13, protest against the Sabal Trail pipeline on the corner of West University Avenue and Northwest 34th Street on Saturday. About 20 protesters cheered when passing cars honked.