The Rutherford Institute's complaint in Gelburd v. Christiansen
ROANOKE, Va. — The Rutherford Institute has filed a lawsuit demanding that government officials allow a physician to examine and provide medical care for a pipeline protester who is being deprived of food and water in an effort to force her to end her “tree sitting” protest against the construction of a natural gas pipeline through the National Forest.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, asserts that Forest Service agents have violated Dr. Greg Gelburd’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and First Amendment by preventing him from examining “Nutty,” a 28-year-old woman who has spent close to 50 days perched in a “monopod” atop a 45-foot pole (“tree sitting”) in the National Forest in protest over the 303-mile long Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) which has resulted in the taking of private property and destruction of national forest areas. The lawsuit alleges that government agents are attempting to force Nutty to end her protest by denying her access to food, water, provisions and medical assistance, as well as jeopardizing her health by directing smoke at her, subjecting her to bright lights at night, and targeting her with noise from generators placed below the tree.
Affiliate attorneys Tammy Belinsky and Alan Stuart Graf are assisting The Rutherford Institute in the lawsuit.