By Guy Page
Yesterday’s Extinction Rebellion climate change protest led to a car accident on Main Street, Montpelier police said Wednesday.
Yesterday, Headliners reported that a climate change protest blocking State Street in Montpelier resulted in idled cars and heavy traffic as motorists were forced to find alternate routes to their destinations. Headliners left at 10:45 AM. On Wednesday, Headliners learned from two city police officers that the protest disbanded at 11:30, after blocking traffic for about two hours and ignoring requests by police to get out of the road. The police officers also said that heavier-than-usual traffic on Main Street necessitated by the unavailability of State Street caused a car accident on Main Street. The officers did not say whether anyone was injured in the accident.
The police officers noted that at one time three police cruisers and a fire truck (presumably dispatched for the car accident) were all idling on city streets as a result of the protest. The carbon emissions from these public safety vehicles were slight compared to the hundreds of cars whose drivers were deprived of access to State Street and were therefore idling at long lines on Main, Taylor, and other crossing streets.
Coverage of the protest on Headliners and the City of Montpelier Police Department Facebook Page drew strong reader interest and comments. For example, the Montpelier PD Facebook page recorded 61 comments and 55 shares to the 11:30 pm post that State Street had re-opened. Vermont media covered the protest in context with a Public Utilities hearing about the merger of Green Mountain Power with a natural gas company and its implications for Vermont. However, the effects of the blocked traffic – idling, the accident – went almost unnoticed in the Vermont media, except by WPTZ’s Stewart Ledbetter who noted that “at 11 a.m. [Montpelier Police Chief Anthony] Facos said he was unaware of complaints from city businesses about the disruption, which left half of downtown unusually quiet for a weekday morning.”
This observation may have disappointed at least one protester interviewed by Vermont Public Radio said she didn’t care whether people were upset or not. “This is probably going to make some people in Montpelier and surrounding areas very upset with us,” she said as commuters detoured around the blocked intersection. “But the idea is that they should be upset. The Earth is dying. People are still building fossil fuel infrastructure. And nobody is talking about it.”
No reference to the Montpelier protest has yet appeared on the Extinction Rebellion of the Upper Valley Facebook Page, although it does have a post about ER compatriots who superglued themselves to a public building in Washington D.C.. It also offers an interesting religious theory: “A predominant theme in myths and sagas handed down to us from Neolithic times is the ascendancy of a patriarchal god over the ancient tradition… It has been asserted that the catalyst for this shift was the invention of the cattle-drawn plow.”
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.