Traffic-blocking protester gets probation
An Athens County man who blocked a Columbus intersection by chaining himself to the underside of a minivan to protest the Dakota Access pipeline was placed on probation Thursday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Peter Gibbons- Ballew, 34, of Millfield, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Municipal Court to inducing panic. Misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and failure to comply with an officer were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
Judge Eileen Paley fined him $250, placed him on non- reporting probation for 18 months and ordered him to complete 40 hours of community service.
Defense attorney Constance Gadell-Newton said her client has agreed to volunteer with the People’s Justice League, a nonprofit social- justice organization in southeast Ohio, where he already has completed 20 hours.
If he violates probation, he could be sent to jail for six months.
Assistant City Attorney Issac Rinsky said the sentence was recommended by both sides as part of the agreement.
Gibbons-Ballew was part of a group of protestors Nov. 15 at the intersection of East Broad and 3rd streets. His actions blocked the Downtown intersection for more than an hour in the middle of the workday before Columbus firefighters used extraction tools to remove him.
After the hearing, Gibbons-Ballew said they chose the intersection because of its position between the Statehouse and the Chase Bank building. They wanted to draw attention to the Kasich administration’s decision to send state troopers to North Dakota to deal with protests there and to the financial institutions that are funding the pipeline.
“No single action will put a stop to the pipeline, but I’m part of something much larger,” he said. “Each thing we do shows that there are people all over the county and all over the world who are in solidarity with those who oppose the pipeline.”
Peter Gibbons-Ballew was arrested on Nov. 15 after chaining himself to the underside of a minivan that blocked the intersection at 3rd and East Broad streets.