Nov 7 – Women arrested during protest at Entergy office
Women arrested during protest at Entergy office
November 8, 2005
By Daniel Barlow Rutland Herald
BRATTLEBORO — Seven women were arrested on trespassing charges Monday while protesting a proposed power increase for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
The act of civil disobedience at Entergy Nuclear’s corporate offices in Brattleboro resulted in the women being escorted into the back of a police van, issued citations for unlawful trespass and released.
The women had been told not to cross the police tape or go onto Entergy’s lawn. They did so at about 11 a.m., after an hour of speeches in the parking lot across the road where they and about 40 supporters were permitted to protest.
Armed with a letter of demands for Entergy, the women crossed the street and were met by Vermont State Police. Holding their arms open, the troopers led the women back to the parking lot and to a Brattleboro Police van, where they were loaded inside and cited for trespassing.
One woman, Sunny Miller, 56, of Deerfield, Mass., refused to stand up and was carried into the van by police as a crowd of supporters sang, “We shall not be moved.”
Sally Shaw, 49, of Gill, Mass., said she and the others were protesting because they felt shut out of the regulatory process as federal and state agencies consider if Vermont Yankee can boost its power production.
“There’s a lot of frustration because many of us feel we have been left out of the process,” Shaw said. “And all we could do is utilize our right to speak the truth on our own terms.”
Monday’s demonstration was in response to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s draft permit last week stating a 20 percent power boost at the Vernon reactor would not pose a health or safety risk to the nearby population.
Nina Keller, 59, of Wendell, Mass., said she is worried about the health of her family who live near the plant, just across the state border.
Arrested Monday were Shaw; Keller; Miller; Lynn Crough, 45, of Massachusetts; Maure Briggs-Carrington, 55, of Massachusetts; Terry Carter, 55, of Brattleboro; and Elizabeth Wood, 27, of Dummerston.
Entergy spokesman Larry Smith said Monday’s protest was relatively small for Vermont Yankee, which in the past has had demonstrations of thousands of people.
He added that 160 people usually work at the corporate headquarters in Brattleboro, but most were at the Vernon reactor Monday for the plant’s regular maintenance and refueling outage.
Smith said the company’s priority was to make the demonstration as safe as possible for its employees and the protestors. He said the company had suggested that people avoid the main entrance as a result.
“We’ve had protests before and while we respect their opinions, we don’t share those opinions,” Smith said.
As a precaution, Smith said the company had notified the neighboring C&S Wholesale Grocers warehouse and the company halted tractor-trailer traffic for about 90 minutes to keep large trucks off the road.
On Monday, the protesters’ demands included an independent safety assessment for the 30-year-old plant, full testing of evacuation plans for residents within a 50-mile radius and environmental testing of nearby soil and water.
Shaw said she hopes legislators in Massachusetts and Vermont press for the development of renewable energy. She also criticized the NRC — a federal agency that she dubbed the “Nuclear Advocacy Council” — for allegedly bowing to industry demands.
“The process is broken and rigged and we are tired of the pretense,” she said.
Brattleboro police said the protest and arrests went peacefully Monday. Shaw said she and the six other women were in the back of the police van for about one hour and that police were “hospitable.”
“They were only doing their jobs,” she said.
The women were released on citations to appear in Brattleboro District Court on Dec. 13. Shaw said the group has hired an attorney and intends to fight the charges in a jury trial.
Susan Smallheer contributed to this report.
Contact Daniel Barlow at firstname.lastname@example.org.