MICATS releases video of protest at Schuette house

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands uploaded a 121/2-minute video to YouTube on Friday of a demonstration protesting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s inaction on the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

A screengrab from the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands' video shows protestors in front of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Midland home on Wednesday, July 6. The organization denied trying to “break down” the door of and “attacking” Schuette’s home.

The organization denied trying to “break down” the door of and “attacking” Schuette’s Midland home Wednesday in an email sent to The News Friday, claiming that Schuette’s spokeswoman, Andrea Bitely, misrepresented it.

“It is obvious that these statements were made to deliberately mislead the public in an attempt to make the attorney general look like the victim, when in reality the victims are those living along Line 5 who are living under constant danger by Schuette’s inaction,” the email from MICATS said. “We knocked on the A.G.’s door as we arrived, which nobody answered and carried out our demonstration on the sidewalk.”

Bitely called the demonstrators from MICATS and the environmental group Earth First! “thugs” and the protest an “attempt to intimidate and bully” in a statement.

“Based on how violent the beating of the front door sounded from inside, Mrs. (Cynthia) Schuette believed during the attack that the goal was to break the front door down,” Bitely said.

Cynthia Schuette was home at the time of the demonstration, but Bill Schuette was attending a conference out of state, Bitely said.

"As the Detroit News reported, police and neighbors witnessed protestors hitting the house and defacing it with various substances," Schuette spokeswoman Andrea Bitely said in a statement. "We are thankful for the many people who have reached out to support Bill and Cynthia since this attack took place."

The video begins showing the protestors walking toward the Schuettes’ home and marching to the front door. Although demonstrators can be seen knocking on the door, it is unclear if anyone was “banging” on it.

One neighbor said the protestors were banging on the door, but at least one demonstrator denied it.

The video has an edit at 2:08, though the email claims to show the entire event. Before the cut, demonstrators can be seen walking from the house. The next scene shows a toilet papered tree and cardboard tombstones left in the backyard with various statements, including “RIP Great Lakes Wildlife.” It later turns to view the protestors standing on the sidewalk, lawn, easement and street but not near the house.

Repeated requests to stay off the lawn can be heard in the video as well as someone complaining about the noise level of the demonstrators. Police officers are also visibly standing on the lawn and speaking with people.

Midland police interim Lt. Michael Sokol said Thursday officers were called to the home around 1:30 p.m., observing protestors banging on the door and windows of the house. Sokol said demonstrators surrounded the house and there was evidence of chocolate syrup tossed on the home.

Protestors chanted, played a trumpet and accordion and danced on Schuette’s lawn. They left a banner, letters of chocolate syrup spelling “pipelines spill” and glitter on the grass, according to the email.

“With many cops at the residence, 40 demonstrators and no arrests, we felt our strong statement was made,” the MICATS email read. “Mischaracterizing the demonstration as an ‘attack’ is in reality just an attack on those calling out Schuette for not taking action to shut down the pipeline.”

Bill Schuette, a Republican, is a part of a review of Enbridge Energy’s 63-year-old Line 5 oil pipeline. He has said its “days are numbered” but has not called for it to be shut down.


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