The Progressive


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For Immediate Release

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Shut-It-Downers Rally to Celebrate The People's Payment, Then Block Gate at VYHQ


Rain, fog, and ice did not hamper the enthusiasm of the Shut It Down Affinity group and their supporters Tuesday as they celebrated The People's Payment addressing more than $3,000 in fines and fees assessed for a November 2012 conviction of trespass at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.

More than 50 people congregated at foggy, icy Wells Fountain with signs, banners, and noisemakers to celebrate the widespread community in four states that spontaneously contributed sufficient funds to address the fines of six women convicted in November for blocking the power plant gate in August 2011.

After a parade through downtown with signs, banners, noisemakers, and mock coffins containing mock radioactive fuel rods, fourteen Shut-It-Downers made their way to Entergy headquarters on Old Ferry Road, where they blocked the main entrance before Brattleboro police arrested them for trespass.

Susan Lantz, chair of the Shut It Down fine committee, observed that more than 60 individuals and seven organizations from Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York contributed to Shut It Down. Lantz opened the celebratory rally at Wells Fountain after paying the fine from the Shut It Down Affinity Group checking account in the office of the clerk of the Windham County Superior Court, Criminal Division.

Hattie Nestel of Athol, Massachusetts, one of six women convicted in November for the August gate-blocking, exhorted the exuberant crowd to join the affinity group in its ongoing civil resistance to the nuclear power plant. "The governor hasn't shut Vermont Yankee down," she said. "The legislature hasn't done it. Bernie Sanders hasn't done it. We have to do it. We have to keep going there with our locks and chains until they shut Vermont Yankee down for good."

The Raging Grannies, a group of elder women noted for their sung political commentary, entertained the rally. A leaflet written by Shut-It-Downer Connie Harvard of Northampton, Massachusetts, offers details about radioactive spent fuel rods that make Vermont Yankee tick. The leaflet explains the impossibility of disposing of nuclear waste resulting from nuclear power.

Other speakers were, all Shut-It-Downers, from Massachusetts, Paki Wieland and Frances Crowe of Northampton and Ellen Graves of West Springfield, all also convicted in November; Priscilla Lynch of Conway and Marcia Gagliardi of Athol; and from Vermont, Nina Swaim of Sharon. Dr. Andrew Larkin of Florence, Massachusetts, also addressed the rally.

At least twenty adjourned from the rally to parade through downtown as Nestel led a constant refrain through a bullhorn: "Shut Down Vermont Yankee now!"

Blocking the main entrance later at Entergy headquarters, the fourteen Shut-It-Downers carried banners reading "Entergy Equals Fukushima" and "Vermont Yankee Poisons All." A Brattleboro police detachment summoned by Entergy officials and led by Lieutenant Robert Kirkpatrick arrested and released them at the scene.

Arrested were, from Vermont, Linda Pon Owens, 73, of Brattleboro, and Swaim, 74, and Ulrike Moltke, 68, of Sharon; from New Hampshire, Patricia Greene, 67, of Canaan; from Massachusetts, Crowe, 93; Nancy First, 84; Connie Harvard, 64; Susan Lantz, 72; and Wieland, 69, all of Northampton; Anneke Corbett, 70, of Florence; Gagliardi, 65, and Nestel, 74, of Athol; Graves, 69, of West Springfield; Lynch, 61, of Conway.

In addition to Nestel and Wieland, Mary Kehler (known as Betsy Corner), Crowe, First, and Graves were convicted of trespass in November for the August 2011 gate-blocking at Vermont Yankee.

Lantz noted that among those donating to the fine payment were the Northampton Friends (Quakers), who addressed in their entirety the fines and fees assessed on Crowe and First, members of the Northampton Friends. In January, 2012, the Northampton Friends issued a statement that declares, in part:

"As members of the Northampton Friends Meeting, we strongly support the closure of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant. Nuclear power is a very dangerous way to make electricity, and the owners of Vermont Yankee have not earned our trust. We already have decades worth of poisonous nuclear waste stored on the banks of the Connecticut River that will need to be handled with utmost care. It is time to stop adding nuclear waste to those spent fuel pools."