Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cape Wind: Demonstrators at West Yarmouth

In an earlier post I commented on my feelings of discomfort with the behavior I witnessed at the Monday hearing in West Yarmouth. In this post I will explore that a little.

The URL below is to a video of the approach to the facility. One can hear the chanting and see activity from a considerable distance, so it does not come as a surprise that I was ready for whatever happened, and had my camera running. Chanting communicated to me that at least one group was actively encouraging attendees to join them in their view of the proceedings, and I strongly approve of such persuasion. It is democracy in action.

What made me feel uncomfortable was having to walk a narrow sidewalk with demonstrators close up on both sides of me. You can see the people in front of me accepting the offered necklaces with banner indicating that they are against the Cape Wind project. I imagine these people felt vastly more comfortable than I did. I was not accepting any literature or banners from either side, and I had a camera out in public to document what was happening. With hands and arms coming into my walking tube, and the owners of those hands and arms aggressively reaching out and proselytizing, I really was a little anxious about how they would take my not embracing their cause. While I clearly did not even hesitate to proceed, this forced me to think a little about escape routes should escape become necessary.

It would have been better if the SOS demonstrators had placed themselves back a little toward the school and in the area to the left of my path. They could then had drawn attendees toward them rather than reaching out into their path.

There was only a single person from the KY coal mines handing out their literature. While this person presented the literature "in your face," one had the choice to move around to the left to gain greater distance ... and it was only a single person, therefore not offering the same potential threat.

I felt that the Cape and the Islands (pro-wind) people had appropriate positioning and activity. They were also smart enough to smile at the anti-wind people in front of me. This may be a matter of their having learned the ropes in terms of successfully encouraging people to move in their direction.

Note the considerable police presence at the very end of the video. I was surprised with the extent of police coverage. Police were everywhere. It gave me considerable comfort that they were present, as the animation of many of the anti-wind people made it an uncertain situation should they react negatively to anyone who did not clearly embrace their position. Only once did it appear that security personnel were needed for a specific action. One of the early anti-wind speakers refused to end his presentation when his 3-minute time allotment was up, repeatedly ignoring the moderator. A very large hired security guard walked over near him, establishing a clear presence and statement that there would be order, and the speaker backed down.

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