NEWPORT, Vt. – “If people can learn anything from this case, it’s to organize with your community, organize with your friends and family to protect the places you love,” said Eric Gillard.
Activists against the Lowell Wind Project filled the Orleans District Court in support of six of their own.
The self-proclaimed “Lowell Six” began their trial facing charges of criminal trespassing. The charges stem from a Dec. 5, 2011, protest aimed at stopping Green Mountain Power workers from getting to the site.
With the six defendants side by side, the main question in court is whether the land they were on is being leased by Green Mountain Power, or if it belongs to Don Nelson.
Nelson said the land is his, and protestors said they acted with that viewpoint in mind.
“We thought for sure we were on the Nelson’s land, we had a string measure the distance, we had talked to a surveyor who’s going to testify later today,” said one of the defendants, Ryan Gillard.
A land surveyor, Paul Hannan, was the defense’s first witness. Hannan, considered an expert witness, said his calculations showed the land in question was part of Nelson’s property.
The defendants hope the case will benefit Vermont’s future.
“This could really set a precedent for other private land owners from having their property captured,” said Gillard.
Gillard’s co-defendant, Eric Wallace-Senft, spoke of his children’s future in the Green Mountain State.
“This is why I went up, because I want preserve some kind of future for my children in Vermont, my two daughters, and if we’re going to be destroying the land we live on we’re not going to be able to do that,” said Wallace-Senft.
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