Vt. Yankee protesters pay fine, then protest again
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Anti-nuclear protesters paid more than $3,264 in fines this week — donated by a Northampton Quaker group and others — then held a noontime rally protesting the continued operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. They then lost no time going back to Entergy Nuclear corporate headquarters to protest some more, risking new fines.
Fourteen women, all members of the Shut It Down Affinity Group, were handed trespassing notices by Brattleboro police officers Wednesday afternoon, after they refused to stop blocking the front door to the Entergy offices.
The trespass notices came about two hours after a member of their group paid the hefty fines for the six women who had been found guilty of trespassing for blocking the gates at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in August 2011 following a jury trial in November.
Among the six were Hattie Nestel, 74, of Athol, and Betsy Corner, 65, of Colrain, and Frances Crowe, 93; Nancy First, 84; and Paki Wieland, 69, all of Northampton.
This time Entergy’s front door was locked, and the women unfurled two large signs, one saying “VY Poisons All — Shut It Down,” and “Entergy = Fukushima.” They recited the contents of a leaflet they had distributed in downtown Brattleboro, warning about the dangers of radioactive isotopes in spent nuclear fuel currently stored at Vermont Yankee, waiting for the police to arrive.
Five of the six women who were tried and found guilty were among the 14 handed trespassing notices by Brattleboro Police Lt. Robert Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick said that if any of the 14 women had already been served with “no trespassing” notices by Entergy because of previous demonstrations, they could face criminal charges.
Kirkpatrick asked the women to identify themselves if they had, but all refused.
“If you tell us, it’s just quicker,” Fitzpatrick, a veteran of many demonstrations, told them.
The six-member group, which was convicted after a two-day trial, had vowed not to pay a cash fine for their civil disobedience at the nuclear plant, and had wanted to serve time in prison. Some of the women have been arrested more than 20 times at Vermont Yankee over the years in peace demonstrations. In only one case, have the charges resulted in full prosecutions, with most charges dropped by the Windham County state’s attorney’s office before arraignment.
But Judge John Wesley wouldn’t let the women go to prison and instead ordered them to pay cash fines.