December 9, 2012

Vt. utility said don't arrest reporters

The Associated Press

NEWPORT, Vt. - Internal messages between Green Mountain Power officials said reporters covering protests at the beginning of construction of the Lowell Mountain wind power project were not to be arrested.

The documents obtained by the Caledonian Record showed that GMP explicitly directed staff and police at the Lowell Mountain commercial wind site to not arrest reporters.

Earlier this week, trespass charges were dismissed against Barton Chronicle Publisher Chris Braithwaite. Prosecutors did not say what led to their decision.

"Arresting reporters will do more harm than good," GMP Vice President Robert Dostis wrote in an email to a correspondent identified as "Charlie." "We also have to be careful with the other trespasses, if we arrest without first giving warning, we look like the bad guys and we give the protesters just what they want. They are doing this because they want to annoy us in hopes we become aggressive and they can show everyone what a mean and arrogant foreign owned company they say we are."

Braithwaite, 68, was arrested a year ago while covering the protest that took place when construction was getting under way on the project that is now operational. Six other protesters arrested that day were convicted by a jury and are scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Since then, Braithwaite said he had spent a lot of time and about $10,000 defending himself against the criminal complaint.

"It was kind of an unpleasant way to spend a year, certainly a novel year, fighting a criminal charge," Braithwaite said.


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