Hi Pipefighters -
firstname.lastname@example.orgHenryHere's our press release about the court proceedings in Chelsea yesterday, from the "PDEJ, the ad hoc group that organized the original action at Recchia's house. Hope you are all well and looking forward to spending more time with you soon.
People's Department of Environmental Justice
June 5, 2017 -- Chelsea, VT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Court Blockade Ends in Climate Case Mistrial
In a legal plot twist in Orange County Court today, protesters from Bread and Puppet Theater and the People’s Department of Environmental Justice turned the tables on the State Department of Public Service and the State Attorney's office in an alleged trespassing case. In May of 2016, protesters visited former State Dept. of Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia at his home. About a dozen protesters, dressed in hardhats and high res vests, came to reenact landowner accounts of Vermont Gas contractors violating written no-trespass orders at their homes. Today, protesters at the courthouse actually halted the resulting trespassing trial of Plainfield resident Henry Harris. Wearing prison stripes in the courtroom, they held up banners that read, “The State of Fossil Fuels vs. The People” and “Sentenced to Climate Change”. Judge Timothy Tomasi quickly stopped the proceedings and left the courtroom after the protest, returning minutes later to approve the State’s motion to declare a mistrial. Tomasi said part of the reason for the mistrial was that he failed to instruct the jurors to leave the courtroom when he left, exposing them to the influence of the assembled protesters. It is not clear whether the court will assume responsibility for this, but Tomasi also mentioned the possibility that Harris would serve jail time for contempt of court.
Last May protesters pantomimed surveying Mr. Recchia’s land, pretended to cut down lilac bushes with chain-less chainsaws, marked and staked out the property, and raised a 26-foot tall mock-oil derrick. The protest dramatized serving an Eminent Domain Foreclosure notice against Recchia, who had been authorizing the seizure of Addison county landowner's property through eminent domain processes for the controversial VT Fracked Gas Pipeline. These seizures of private land and new studies about the extreme impacts of methane “natural gas” on the warming climate have caused public outcry against the Addison-Rutland fracked gas pipeline and the Department of Public Service. Needless to say, Shumlin’s Commissioner Recchia didn’t like the eminent domain theater at his own home last May. To top off the irony, Mr. Recchia offered conciliatory remarks to Mary Martin, an Addison county resident in attendance, who has stood against the Department of Public Service’s eminent domain activities for the past half-decade.
Instead of focusing on his charges, Defendant Henry Harris claimed that “We are all sentenced to climate change”, stating that the government is the one on trial for pushing through the Addison/Rutland Fracked Gas pipeline and stealing people’s homes to do it. “We’re not here to talk about whether anyone stood in this guy’s yard or not” said Harris “We’re here, again, to exercise our first amendment rights and demand effective action to address the social and economic threats of climate change before it’s too late.” As far as the trespassing charge, the State’s witnesses were unable to produce any hard evidence that Mr. Harris remained on Recchia’s land once he was asked to leave, a key element of a trespassing convition. Harris said in court that he assumes this lack of any solid evidence is why the State’s attorney was so eager to move for a mistrial.
Protesters say that their exercise of free speech in the courthouse was a success, and are working on a new campaign to stop the next phase of the pipeline construction between Middlebury and Rutland.
For more info, contact Henry Harris
917 922 5430
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