KIBBY TOWNSHIP – Four Earth First! protesters were arrested today after they temporarily stopped a semi-truck carrying a 140-foot wind turbine blade to the Kibby Wind Power Project. One of those arrested ran under the truck and locked herself to the trailer’s steel supports.
A group of about 50 people who had been attending the national Earth First! summer meeting at a camp in Coplin Plantation, began assembling at 5 a.m. this morning at the entrance to the Gold Brook Road that accesses TransCanada’s Kibby Wind Power Project currently under construction.
Eleven protesters were issued criminal trespass warnings. Seven were found trying to get to the top of Kibby using back roads off of Route 201 and four more were also issued a warning after they were found trying to climb Kibby mountain from the power station off Route 27, said Lt. Don Pomelow of the State Police.
More than 30 officers with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, Border Patrol and the State Police, strung a do-not-cross tape across the entrance and waited on the other side. Protesters, some with signs denouncing the 44-turbine Kibby wind power project and other energy projects TransCanada is involved with, stood and waited through most the sunny and hot morning.
“There’s a huge police presence here,” said Logan Perkins, an Earth First! spokeswoman. “They’re only trying to silence our speech and taxpayers are funding an enormous amount to stop us.”
At various times during the wait, the group would assemble in a circle and the question of what’s next would come up. One idea was to cross under the do-not-cross tape and walk past the police and go up Gold Brook Road. Henry Harris asked, “How many want to go in?” Then another protester asked, “What would be the purpose of going up the road?” No one moved toward the road.
“If a blade comes, are we going to let it in?” Perkins shouts.
“Noooo,” the crowd yells.
At nearly 1 p.m. several protesters suddenly ran out onto Route 27 from the Sarampus Falls Rest Area just south of Gold Brook Road and, blocking the road, stopped a caravan of two state police cruisers, a tractor-trailer carrying a turbine blade and two traffic warning trucks. All traffic on Route 27 came to a halt as law enforcement officers quickly converged on the scene.
Willow Amanda Cordes-Eklund scampered under the tractor trailer just behind the cab, and with help from two more protesters, quickly secured a U-shaped bike lock around her neck and the steel beams under the trailer.
The Earth First! crowd rushed the semi as several officers worked to keep them back away from the truck’s cab and wind blade. A few who tried to go past the officers were physically held and in one case tackled to the ground by an officer. More officers arrived and lined up shoulder to shoulder, telling the protesters to get off the street and stay on the road’s shoulder. The group backed off to the side of the road as the search for a bolt cutter got started.
Some minutes later, a bolt cutter was found and two officers asked Cordes-Eklund if she would leave voluntarily. She told them no, and they responded by telling her she would be arrested. Then the bike lock was cut and Cordes-Eklund was handcuffed and charged with failing to disperse. Three more, Eric J. Gillard, Courtney Ann Butcher and Ana Isabel Rodrigues were also arrested on the same charge. Butcher refused to stop sitting in the middle of the Gold Brook Road’s entrance and Gilllard and Rodrigues were arrested at the tractor trailer blockade scene. All four were taken to the Franklin County jail.
A protester at the scene said they were tipped off that three turbine blades would be delivered to the site today and decided to stage a blockade as a way to cap off their annual summer meeting.