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WYFF4 NBC News (North Carolina)

Duke Power Protesters Arrested, Stunned With Tasers


Rutherford County, N.C. - Some environmental activists used the April 1 holiday to try to prove a point, and some of them were arrested and stunned with Taser guns in the process.

Activists nationwide refer to April 1 as Fossil Fools Day, and they protested the use of fossil fuels in several locations across the country, including North Carolina.

The protesters were in Rutherford County in North Carolina at the Duke Energy facility.

The activists used chains and pipes to try to stop construction at Duke Energy's Cliffside Steam Station, located in both Rutherford and Cleveland counties. They chained themselves to construction equipment and then refused to unlock the chains.

Duke is environmentally enhancing one unit, while adding on another that will replace four older ones.

In a statement, Duke said,

"When these projects are completed in 2012, the Cliffside facility will generate significantly more electricity for our customers while actual emissions decrease ... Cliffside's new unit will be the cleanest and most efficient unit on Duke Energy's system."

The protesters don't buy it. Eight activists chained themselves to the construction equipment. When they wouldn't unlock themselves, deputies loaded them into a van and charged them with trespassing and resisting arrest.

The protesters said calling a coal plant environmental is a lie because they cause climate change and destroy the environment.


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Protester Matt Wallace said, "That's essentially signing a death sentence for our generation, so we felt it was necessary to take action."

The protest landed Christine Irvine and seven others in jail for most of the day.

"We were there to stand in solidarity with youth across the country," she said. "We weren't out there but a few minutes before the first patrol car had arrived."

Some of the protester had marks left on their bodies from being stunned by a deputy's Taser, but they said it was worth it.

The Rutherford Sheriff's Office said that the protesters were not Tasered. They said being Tasered means being shot with two electric prongs that are propelled from a Taser gun. Being stunned meant that deputies pulled the trigger and touched the person with the current emitted by the Taser. Deputies said that the protesters were each stunned less than two seconds.

Evan Webb was one of those stunned by deputies, but he says that won't stop the protests.

"We're not stopping any time soon, we're going to keep the pressure on Duke Energy," Webb said.

Duke continues to defend itself, said that the additions and enhancements at Cliffside will decrease emissions such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen and mercury.

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