Police “Absolutely” Sure Chestnut Hill Meetinghouse Fire Is “Union Issue”

I’m a few days late to this, but it’s worth reporting. Police say they believe the burned site of the proposed Chestnut Hill Friends meetinghouse was the result of a dispute between union members and the project’s non-union contractors. This comes on the heels of similarly violent confrontations staged by labor this summer toward non-union workers at the Goldtex construction site. Describing one of those incidents in his recent piece on the Goldtex controversy, Steve Volk relayed one particularly harrowing scene captured by surveillance video.

On the screen we see an engineering contractor who wants to enter the controversial Goldtex construction site at 12th and Wood streets, only to find his path blocked by eight union men. With mincing steps, the non-union contractor—a middle-aged man in a blue short-sleeved shirt—tries to sneak in behind them, sidling through a narrow gap between a temporary chain-link fence and a stone wall. But the union men spot him, move toward the fence, and start to lean against it. Then we see four of them take turns pushing—using the fence like a microscope slide to fix the contractor against the wall. In one of the videos, you can hear the man start to cry out, his voice tremulous as he’s crushed. Finally, he slumps to the ground.

Police say they’re sure this wasn’t an accident or a random act of teenage naughtiness, because the “vandals used an acetylene torch, which requires a skilled operator who must wear a special mask and gloves.” Damages will likely total $500,000. [Inquirer]