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Save Riverdale Volunteers Forced To Leave: On-The-Scene Coverage

4y ago


Wednesday, June 12th, 2012 Press Contact: Deb Eck (Riverdale Resident): (570) 772-3335; Sarah Ross (Media Contact): (410) 490-1745 Twelve Day Blockade Ended; Supporters Say the Story is Not Over After twelve days of community resistance against the displacement of the residents of Riverdale Mobile Home Park for the construction of a water withdrawal site, Aqua America's private security arrived on site today to erect a temporary fence around the property. Pennsylvania State Police quickly surrounded the park where residents and volunteers had blockaded access roads against vehicles contracted by Aqua America. The Riverdale Mobile Home Park, which was sold to Aqua America for the construction of a water withdrawal site, was formerly the home of 32 families. Residents first learned of the sale when it was posted in the newspaper, and quickly reached out for support. Volunteers came from across Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York to stay as guests to the residents, and stand beside the community. Police warned that all future guests who enter the property would be risking arrest--regardless of their relation to residents. Two former residents of the park who stopped by to visit friends were prohibited from entering the premises. Friends and supporters stated that they would continue to stand beside the residents, even if it meant risking arrest. Security officials erected an orange fence in front of the community, physically dividing the residents from the supporters, leaving the latter on the outside of the property. At the request of residents and out of great respect for their wishes, volunteers dispersed when asked by residents to not be arrested. "There will be other days when you'll need to risk more, fight harder," said one resident, "but today is not that day. Take care of yourselves and know how much we have appreciated your support." Residents and volunteers had stopped the construction of the extraction site, permitted to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water from the Susquehanna River, which was set to begin on June 1st. This tiny community fought back for the preservation of their homes, families, the land, and the river surrounding them. The continued support of locals and outsiders directly led to negotiations between Aqua America and the remaining residents of Riverdale. As of this morning, negotiations were still in progress. As of this evening, Riverdale Mobile Home Park looked like "a battle site," as Shawn Paul Patterson, one of the hired security guards, commented. The murals and signs painted by residents, their children, and volunteers alike were dismantled and broken into larges pieces strewing the front lawn. Despite the end of the blockade, and the beginning of construction tomorrow, residents feel that their supporters accomplished much in demonstrating the real ability of a community to come together and stand. "We are here today because we believe that everyone has a right to have a home. We go today because it was always our intention to leave when the residents no longer requested our help." Said Jeff Anderson of, Benton who had stood beside residents from the first day of the blockade, "But the story is not over as long as big industry continues to destroy, divide, and displace communities."