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December 09, 2011

VIDEO: Arrest of Six Lowell Mountain Protesters and Barton Chronicle Publisher

The Arrests from Hunter on Vimeo.

Vermonters for a Clean Environment released new video last night of the Dec. 5 arrest of six protesters, as well as journalist Chris Braithwaite of the Barton Chronicle, who was covering the recent standoff on Lowell Mountain. The video shows the orderly and nonviolent arrest of six activists (including the videographer) who stood in the middle of the Lowell Mountain clearcut wearing shirts that read, "Ridges aren't renewable" and "Once it's destroyed, it can't be put back." As construction vehicles roll by, an Orleans County Sheriff's deputy, backed up by a Vermont State Police trooper, explains to the activists how they'll be detained and transported off the mountain.

Unfortunately, the activist's video camera couldn't capture the audio of Braithwaite's confrontation with Orleans County deputy Phil Brooks. But the 67-year-old founder, co-owner and publisher of the Chronicle spoke to Seven Days shortly after his release on Monday to explain what transpired.

"I did what I've always done up there, which is cover any protests and gone wherever the protesters go," Braithwaite says. "So, in this case, they were in the middle of the crane path, and so was I." 

Braithwaite was the only journalist on the scene covering the arrests. "We don't get a lot of civil disobedience in the Northeast Kingdom," he adds. "So when it happens, I sort of want to cover it."

Braithwaite claims he left the "crane path" and stepped behind the pink tape that delineates the construction zone. Evidently, that wasn't enough to satisfy Orleans County deputy Phil Brooks, who arrested Braithwaite along with the six demonstrators. All seven were taken off the mountain, issued trespass citations and ordered to appear in court on Dec 20. 

"I don't know how you cover that kind of confrontation if you can't be there," Braithwaite explains. "I was sort of surprised that he wouldn't just accept the idea that I'd do that and just leave." 

This was Braithwaite's seventh climb to the top of Lowell Mountain and the first time that protesters tried to physically obstruct the heavy equipment that will eventually erect 21 wind turbines along the ridgeline. He plans to separate his defense from the protesters' and fight his charge on First Amendment grounds.

The Chronicle has published several editorials opposing the Kingdom Community Wind Project since Green Mountain Power first proposed it back in the fall of 2009.

Please note the Burlington occupiers were not their to help out. Must be their is nobody in the kingdom with the power of Mayor Kiss to have stopped these arrests. Oh wait a minute, maybe Doug Nelson can set them free, after all he had the power to twist the legislators private parts so tight, and run Vermont around in circles for over 12 months, he could get them released.

The situation is a bit more nuanced, especially if you're color blind or don't understand there is both a pink tape and an orange tape. Chris did leave on his own, he got off the crane path (which is on land that the Nelsons claim they own, and the issue is in court) and went and got behind the orange (not pink) tape that demarcates the limit of disturbance. He was completely out of the path of GMP's equipment and there were no safety issues, he was out of harm's way. However, the cops wanted him to get behind the pink tape (yes, there is another line) that demarcates the property line that GMP claims is correct. That pink line is off in the woods). From behind the pink line, Chris would not have heard or seen what was going on. Chris did what was necessary to be sure he was safe and to separate himself from the protesters, but that wasn't good enough for the cops, they wanted him back another 100 feet or more and back in the woods.

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