On October 12, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD) dispatched Civil Process Division deputies to 49 Memery Lane in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to enforce a court-ordered eviction. Around 9:15 a.m., 55-year-old Rorie Susan Woods rolled up in her Nissan Xterra, pulling a trailer full of bee hives. Despite all the honey she was towing, Woods was anything but sweet.
Woods reportedly did not live in the $1.5 million 22-room residence, which the sheriff’s department (HCSD) indicated has been in various stages of eviction for over two years. MassLive reported that it alternatively belonged to Alton King Jr. Nevertheless, Woods was keen to obstruct the eviction.
The HCSD said that upon arrival, Woods jumped out of her vehicle and beelined to the flatbed behind it, upon which sat towers heavy with hives. She straightaway began shaking the towers, unleashing multitudes of honeybees, which proved keen on violence as opposed to pollination.
When Deputy Michael Joslyn attempted to stop her, Woods allegedly smashed the Styrofoam lid on one hive tower. More bees swarmed out, several of which stung the deputy on his face and head
Woods proceeded to flip over another tower. The unkind disruption enraged the bees, which darted out and stung several more members of the HCSD.
Amidst the frenzy, Woods managed to put on a beekeeper suit. Her alleged aim: to barricade the door of the home. According to deputy sheriff Daniel H. Soto, Woods managed to cart three more hives over to the entranceway.
Despite the frenetic swarm of stinging bees, the deputies managed to take Woods to the ground and handcuff her, restoring some semblance of order.
Once in HCSD custody, Woods was told that several of the deputies were in fact allergic to bees, to which she allegedly responded, “Oh, you’re allergic? Good.”
Sheriff Nick Cocchi indicated one staff member was taken to the hospital.
“Luckily, he was alright or she would be facing manslaughter charges,” said Cocchi. “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.
Robert Hoffman, chief deputy of the Civil Process Office, said, “Never in all my years of leading the Hampden County Sheriff’s Civil Process Division have I seen something like this. … I’m just thankful that no one died because bee allergies are serious.”
Woods faces multiple felony charges, including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, as well as a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. She was released without having to post bail after her arraignment.
As for the honeybees, they paid the price for Woods’ actions. Thousands were killed.
In an interview conducted at the time of her eviction, Woods said, “If we lose, we’re out on the street.”
The HCSD emphasized that it is not responsible for eviction decisions, which is the domain of the courts, and that it offers evictees help with job placements, mental health issues, and substance use disorders.
Hoffman stated, “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 hope that these out-of-county protesters will reconsider using such extreme measures in the future because they will be charged and prosecuted.”