The Reporter: Prison protesters arrested along Route 73 in Skippack

By BRADLEY SCHLEGEL bschlegel@thereporteronline.comMr Wispy in enemy hands

SKIPPACK — Authorities arrested seven protesters from Decarcerate PA early Monday morning along Route 73.

The septet was blocking the entrance to the construction site of two new prisons on the grounds of SCI Graterford, according to a public information release report from the Pennsylvania State Police.

The protesters lined up a number of chairs, desks and apples along the road between Hudnut and Lucon roads, according to Decarcerate PA spokesperson Thomas Dichter.

All from Philadelphia, the protesters face charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, failure to disperse and disorderly conduct, according to the state police. The intent of the “mock schoolhouse” was to bring further attention to Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to construct the new prisons, according to Dichter.

He said the grassroots organization believes the approximately $400 million needed to build SCI Phoenix I and II would be better utilized to fund Pennsylvania’s education, calling the demonstration an attempt to draw attention to the “wasting of valuable state resources.”

Authorities observed 10 school-style desks purposefully placed by the protesters to block the construction entrance, according to information provided by Morgan Crummy, the public information officer at the state police’s Skippack barracks.

The protesters set up at 6:40 a.m. Monday, according to Dichter.

He said they were arrested approximately one hour later.

It states the desks were occupied by seven protesters, and that authorities observed eight other protesters on foot.

All seven protestors — Layne Mullett, 27, of the 4000 block of Walnut Street; Jenna Peters-Golden, 27, of the 800 block of Saint Bernard Street; Leana Cabral, 29 of the 4000 block of Hazel Avenue; Erica Slaymaker, 23, of the 400 block of Sansom Street; Sean Damon, 35, of Chester Avenue; David Fisher, 41, of the 5000 block of Chester Avenue and Robin Markle, 26, of the 5000 block of Cedar Avenue — were arraigned by District Judge Albert Augustine, according to authorities.

The judge set the bail for each at 10 percent of $5,000, the information states.

Dichter described the serious nature of the demonstration as escalation of the Decelerate PA’s willingness to “do what needs to be done” to prevent the construction of the prisons.