Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons
Just some of the 1,500 protesters who marched on Entergyâ€™s corporate headquarters in Brattleboro on Thursday
With additional reporting by Jeff Potter, using the resources of a video of Wrinn’s press conference posted on YouTube by Brattleboro Community Television (BCTV).
Originally published in The Commons issue #145 (Wednesday, March 28, 2012).
BRATTLEBORO—More than 1,000 people — approximately 1,500, according to unofficial estimates — converged on Entergy’s corporate headquarters at Old Ferry Road last Thursday in protest of the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
In all, 137 protestors were arrested for unlawful trespass on Entergy’s property, according to Brattleboro Police Chief Eugene Wrinn.
One of the largest anti-nuclear protests in the area since the 1980s, the protestors had the support of Gov. Peter Shumlin, a bitter opponent of the plant, who in a statement released that night described the March 22 event as an expression of “their — and my — frustration that this aging plant remains open after its agreed-upon license has expired.”
In the crowd walked a number of people new to the anti-nuclear movement. The 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan and the court case logged against Vermont by Vermont Yankee’s owner Entergy inspired new protesters to take to the road.
The rally kicked off from the Brattleboro Common at 11 a.m., with the insistence by organizers that participants take a pledge of nonviolence.
Wrinn filmed the beginning of the march, noting that the protest organizers had obtained the proper permits for the day.
Organizers counted 852 people, from children in strollers to elderly people walking with the aid of crutches, leaving the Common for the walk in the unseasonable heat up Putney Road to Old Ferry Road, off Route 5 north of Exit 3.
More joined the line of march as the throng left the Common for the 90-minute trek north. It took more than 20 minutes for the line of march to pass by Entergy’s headquarters.
On the walk, a first-time protester, Rui Santos, pushed his bike up Putney Road. He said he had biked 20 miles from Greenfield, Mass. that morning to attend the rally.
“I had to walk [today],” said Santos, adding that he believes the present generation has a responsibility to pass on a “free and clean world” to future generations.
Santos said that in his native Republic of Cape Verde, people don’t protest as they do in the United States, despite how the government takes resources for its own benefit.
He said he wasn’t sure why people in Cape Verde didn’t protest — lack of organization or wanting a quick result, he guessed — but he felt that change takes time. In the meantime, he wanted to see people standing up for a good cause, he said.
At 2:30 p.m., with music and puppetry from Bread and Puppet Theater in the background, rally participants began dividing themselves into affinity groups in preparation for crossing the line and stepping onto Entergy’s property.
At the staging area, three men from New Hampshire looked on.
“Contract law takes it on the chin,” said George Corrette, co-host of radio show Empire Watch on WKNH 91.3 FM, the Keene State College radio station, about the recent Entergy ruling in Federal Court.
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