Police break up "knit-in" protest of gas pipeline in Vermont with arrest

Arrested protester: "I was incensed because I feel like they're trying to intimidate and bully people into not protesting."
By JC Sevcik  |  July 3, 2014 at 5:22 PM
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BURLINGTON, Vt., July 3 (UPI) -- A "knit-in" protest in South Burlington, Vermont was broken up by police Wednesday, ending in one arrest and several trespassing notices.

Five women upset about Vermont Gas' plans for a pipeline decided to engage in an act of civil disobedience -- one that could only have been made more civil had it included tea and biscuits -- by staging a sit-in in the utility company's waiting room and passing the slow-moving protest time by knitting.

The sewing circle wanted to address complaints about plans to expand a pipeline to officials at the utility company, but were turned away because they didn't have an appointment.

Instead they camped out with their yarn and needles and matching red shirts and hunkered down for a session of knitting "pipeline cozies" by way of protest, according to Vermont Public Radio.

The protesters, who live along the route the proposed pipeline would run, claim the utility company has misled the public about its plans and surveyed their property without permission.

According to VPR, Eileen Simollardes, Vermont Gas Vice President, told the women she would be happy to meet with them if they made an appointment for a different day, but refused to speak with them immediately.

She did, however, make time to address other local media about the protest.

According to the Burlington Free Press, the knitters refused the offer of a private meeting and remained in the lobby until closing time, at which point they were issued formal trespassing warnings and threatened with arrest by local police who had dispatched five squad cars to the location for the purpose.

Four of the women left after being served the trespassing notices, but Jane Palmer, whom NPR describes as "a diminutive woman in a floral-print dress and a straw hat," refused to leave.

Palmer was arrested 30 minutes after the building closed while "knitting what appeared to be a turquoise scarf."

"It is unclear if she was allowed to continue her knitting at the police station," NPR's report added. Vermont Gas has faced criticism for their handling of earlier protests against the pipeline, a project that has all the necessary state and federal regulatory approvals but is waiting on easements to cross private properties.

Prior to being arrested, Palmer spoke with the local NPR affiliate.

"I was incensed because I feel like they're trying to intimidate and bully people into not protesting," she said.

"Law-abiding citizens do not like to be threatened with being arrested," Palmer added.

This was Palmer's first arrest.

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