Woman Allegedly Attacked Officers With Bee Hives During Eviction
Some of them, and some bystanders, got stung.
Resisting police action can take many forms, some more creative than others. Pursued by police, suspects have fled by a lawnmower and tried to swim away; others have led authorities on seriously extreme car chases. Earlier this year, a British man actually bit the police dog that was assisting with his arrest. Police have seen it all. But this may be the first time a woman unleashed angry bees on officers.
On Oct. 12, police in Longfellow, Massachusetts, had arrived at a house on appropriately named Memory Lane around 9:15 am. They were there to assist in the eviction of a homeowner, WWLP reported. Suddenly, 55-year-old Rorie Susan Woods pulled up in an SUV, unpacked some bee hives, and started directing their occupants toward the officers.
The police immediately tried to stop Woods from brandishing the bees, but they weren't entirely successful. Some of them, and some bystanders, got stung. Read on to find out exactly what happened and what the beekeeper's connection to the eviction seems to be.
According to a news release from the Hampden County Sheriff's Department, Woods pulled up the eviction in a blue Nissan Xterra. She then "immediately went to the bee hives being towed by her SUV, and tried to open the lids to unleash the bees."
WWLP reported that a sheriff's deputy tried to stop Woods, but she had made the bees angry. They started to circle the area. Woods then smashed the lid of a hive and flipped it off the vehicle, which made the bees aggressive. Several officers were stung, some of whom are allergic to bee stings. (Some bystanders were also stung by the angry bees.) One officer was taken to the hospital for bee stings. But the bee offensive wasn't over yet.
According to WWLP, Woods put on a professional beekeeper suit to protect herself, then carried a tower of bees near the front door of the house. Her stated aim was to stop the eviction. There, she tried to agitate the bees further. And there, sheriff's deputies arrested her.
Woods pleaded not guilty and was released without bail after being charged with four counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon; three counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon; and disorderly conduct.
"Never in all my years of leading the Hampden County Sheriff's Civil Process Division have I seen something like this," said Robert Hoffman, chief deputy. "We truly try to help everyone we are court-ordered to evict, and the New York Times even documented the Sheriff's humane eviction process during the pandemic. I'm just thankful no one died because bee allergies are serious. I hope that these out-of-county protesters will reconsider using such extreme measures in the future because they will be charged and prosecuted."
"We are always prepared for protests when it comes to evictions, but a majority of the groups who protest understand that we are just doing our statutory duty in accordance with state law," Sheriff Nick Cocchi told WWLP. "But this woman, who traveled here, put lives in danger as several of the staff on the scene are allergic to bees. We had one staff member go to the hospital and luckily, he was all right or she would be facing manslaughter charges. I support people's right to protest peacefully but when you cross the line and put my staff and the public in danger, I promise you will be arrested."
Officials said the $1.5 million, 22-room home is possessed by the Bank Of New York Mellon and has been tied up "in the legal process" for two years. When Woods pulled up to the house, a small group of protestors supporting Black homeowners was already there. USA Today reports that in August, The New England Area Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed an amicus brief with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in support of the homeowner, Alton King.
The organization claimed Black homeowners have been unfairly targeted in "an unprecedented time" of illegal foreclosures. "The Alton King case is unfortunately just one of thousands of Massachusetts homeowners targeted by discriminatory and illegal lending practices; it has damaged disproportionately Blacks and other borrowers of color," said Juan Cofield, president of NEAC.
The NEAC and Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending claim King was wrongfully evicted from the home and that he brought evidence of a bankruptcy stay to court one day after the eviction notice was served. The groups have supported King throughout his legal process. In 2018, Masslive.com reported that MAAPL appealed a state supreme court decision on behalf of Woods and other people facing eviction. In a statement then, Woods said, "the eviction process has clearly been weaponized by the courts."