Behind The Scenes

Respect for our legal system (an editorial)

A sneak peek at tomorrow's editorial ...

Six women stood trial earlier this week, accused of trespassing at an
area business to the point they were forcibly removed by local
police. They were tried and convicted by a jury of their peers. And,
after being fined by the judge, the group remained unrepentant,
refused to pay any fine and promised to return to the scene of their

This is not about how you may feel about nuclear power.

This is not about how you may feel about an individual or group’s
right to protest.

This is not about Entergy or Vermont Yankee.

This is about a group of people — people who do not live in Vermont —
people who choose to regularly and repeatedly break the laws our of
state — and people who, when forced to be held accountable for their
actions in a court of law, flaunted their indifference publicly, in
the face of Vermonters and our state’s legal system.
Some things to consider:

— While the women represented themselves, prosecutors and the judge
spent a day in court at taxpayers’ expense. And, before you argue
that they would have been working regardless, perhaps there could
have been a more suitable use of their time (perhaps on more serious

— Twelve jurors (along with two alternates) spent the day in court,
listening to this case. If they had no reimbursement via their jobs,
they were paid a stipend by the court for their time served. And,
even if you consider that money minimal, remember that this was 14
members of the community who gave up time at work, or perhaps at home
tending to family. They gave up a day of their lives to serve the
community, and these women’s reactions are an offense to the
importance of these jurors’ time and effort.

— Each woman on trial was fined $350 for the single charge of
criminal trespassing. Perhaps you don’t care if these fines are paid.
But that amount does not tell a complete story. For each charge, an
additional 15 percent surcharge goes toward the Vermont State
Restitution Unit (in this case, $53); an additional $100 charge goes
toward SUI, the state sex offender enforcement unit; as well as (in
this case) an additional $41 which is automatically assessed for
other fees. That totals an additional $194 which is legislatively
mandated to help fund state groups, groups which rely on these fees
to continue serving the people of Vermont.

— What about the cost of the response by Vernon police and the
Vermont State Police to the initial protest? Again, while these are
people already on duty and performing typical tasks, consider the
lost moments that could mean the difference between life and death
if, while dealing with elderly women chained to a fence, a more
serious emergency arises. Not to mention the fact that the protest in
question took place just days after most of the state was ravaged by
flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

Perhaps most importantly, think of what type of message this sends to
the community. This is a group of people who, justified or not, chose
to break the law. They were tried and convicted. And their reactions,
despite the rhetoric they choose to hide behind, presents one simple
statement: What we stand for is more important than your laws and we
need not follow them.

What a slippery slope this creates.

If more people choose to take that stance, that viewpoint, that
belief ... where, then, will that leave us?

Remember, this is not about nuclear power.

This is not about someone’s right to protest.

This is about someone’s choice to break the law, and their reaction
to doing so.

We believe the reaction following Tuesday’s case is an affront to all
of us living and working in Vermont. We are offended, and hope you
are too.

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. You can’t be serious. Of course this was about nuclear power and Entergy and Vermont Yankee. Perhaps you need to re-read some history about the power of passive resistance and peaceful protests. These were not radical, bomb-throwing anarchists, they were six committed, sincere, concerned women making a statement and had the courage of their convictions to risk arrest, trial and punishment, including jail.

    What would you be willing to take those risks for?

  2. Who is the “we” this person is speaking for and does the “we” know they are being spoken for and consent.
    This person sounds like a big business lackey/sycophant.
    And is the antithesis of what a journalist is.

    Nuclear catastrophe does not know laws or state lines.
    This person should be removed from his position in the news paper .

  3. Here is a phrase Mr D’Errico : ” ‘the golden rule':he who has the gold makes the rules”
    Here is another :”good people break bad laws”
    You should be removed from your position

  4. Mr. Crawford: This is an editorial written for the newspaper, so the “we” refers to the editorial board of the Reformer.

  5. Ok, well if any of the editorial board disagrees I guess they will say as much.
    Obviously I don’t know how those things work :I was not aware that one writer speaks for a board of people. I guess there is a consensus taken or something. Well thanks for sort of clearing that up. I am sorry if my remarks sounded flippant

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