December 6, 2011

Reporter arrested

The Orleans Record, 6 December 2011

A journalist well known in Orleans County was arrested on a charge of trespassing at the Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell Monday morning.

The Chronicle Publisher Chris Braithwaite has covered the protests at the edge of the wind project during the past two months, regularly hiking up the Lowell mountain range to observe the protests and talk with the protesters.

On Monday morning, Braithwaite said he followed a small group of protesters onto property on the ridgeline where Green Mountain Power’s contractors are constructing a crane path and sites for 21 turbines.

“I was up there, as I have been consistently,” said the publisher of the weekly paper based in Barton. “My intent was to cover the demonstration and any arrests if there was any.”

Braithwaite, 67, of Glover, said he was there when sheriff’s deputies and state police arrived to ask the protesters to leave or be arrested on charges of trespassing.

Braithwaite said he told Orleans County Chief Deputy Sheriff Phil Brooks that he was only there to observe the arrests and then he would leave.

Brooks said he had to leave the GMP site immediately, with those protesters who did not want to be arrested, Braithwaite said.

“I thought as I was the only media to witness the arrests, I didn’t feel I could leave,” he said. “I couldn’t do my job otherwise, particularly in a situation of public protest.”

Braithwaite said he was arrested, cited with trespassing and processed at the state police barracks in Derby like each of the six protesters who were cited Monday.

Orleans County Sheriff Kirk Martin confirmed Braithwaite’s description of his arrest.

“He was on GMP property. He was asked to leave. He refused to comply,” Martin said.

Braithwaite has been at the edge of the wind project in the past and has been present when protesters were warned to leave neighboring property during blasting, based on a court order.

He had not been arrested before in connection with coverage of the protests.

Braithwaite will be contacting an attorney.

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