Today only 7 families remain of the former 32 who made up the community of Riverdale Mobile Home Park, in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, after the land beneath them was sold to Aqua America, a water company dedicated to fracking.
On June 12, a blockade of residents, volunteers, and members of Occupy Cleveland made their last stand as private security contractors, and the Pennsylvania State Police were called in and arrest warnings issued. As you can see in the video above, Riverdale residents stepped in, fearing for the safety of those who had stood and fought with them for their homes, and asked volunteers to leave as the police ordered.
Also of note in the video, as the volunteers struggle to keep the blockade going, they try to communicate with the crew who are called in to install fencing. They try to tell one young man that he could get another job(that doesn't involve helping people lose their homes.) and he replies "Not where I come from." He says that he has a family, too, and that they were about to be evicted from their home as well.
Construction has been ongoing for over ten days now, as the remaining families negotiate with Aqua America for financial compensation. To keep any protesters from returning, "There are three private security guards at all times and floodlights on the place all night. They can't get their mail; the mailman isn't allowed in there. They can't get anyone to come help them move their things. It's like they're incarcerated."
But former Riverdale resident Eric Daniels, a truck driver in the natural gas industry, wants everyone in the country to know this: "We were a small group of people who stood up against this injustice."
And it looks like Riverdale won't be the last Pennsylvania community that gets fracked. Just yesterday, residents of nearby Bucknell View Mobile Home Park received notice that they would have to pay thousands of dollars to raise their trailers to higher ground—or get out by August 1. "The issues in our area are out of control," Daniels said.
Nor are community fights over fracking damages by any means isolated to the Susquehanna area. In upstate New York, five underserved counties are about to get fracked, and communities are split between their need for income and their fears of water contamination and other health risks. In California, 600 unregulated wells were fracked in 2011, and upset citizens have allied with national environmental nonprofits to coordinate protests.
"Fracking is always going to have to be fought largely at the local and state level because that's where the controlling government jurisdictions mostly are," said environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, whose organization 350.org used its clout to pass Riverdale's call to action on to its regional supporters via Twitter and email. "It makes it hard, but powerful."
You can learn more about fracking here.