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Four arrested after climate activists block railroad tracks with scaffold in town of Harvard

Climate activists blocked a freight train they said was going to deliver coal to a plant in New Hampshire Friday morning. (nocoalnogas.org)
Climate activists blocked a freight train they said was going to deliver coal to a plant in New Hampshire Friday morning. (nocoalnogas.org)nocoalnogas.org

Four activists protesting fossil fuel use in New England were arrested after they blocked a freight train in the town of Harvard using a three-tiered scaffold Friday morning, according to State Police.

Two Massachusetts residents, Cody T. Pajic, 21, of Pembroke, and Gia N. Neswald, 50, of Turners Falls, were arrested along with Adam Rice, 30, of South Portland, Maine, and Timothy M. Dechristopher, 38, of Pawtucket, R.I., after they refused orders to disperse, State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement.

State Police were called to the Pan Am Railroad tracks at the end of Depot Road to assist Harvard police at about 1:17 a.m., Procopio said.

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After firefighters dismantled the scaffolding, the four were arrested at about 7 a.m., he said. They were taken to Clinton District Court for arraignment on charges of trespassing, walking on railroad tracks, and obstructing a passing train.

The protest continued a string of railroad stoppages by local activists aimed at disrupting shipments to Merrimack Generation Station, a power plant in Bow, N.H., according to Sabine von Mering, an activist with 350 Mass Action, which participated in the protest.

Early in December, more than 20 people were arrested as protesters blocked tracks in Worcester, Ayer, and Hooksett, N.H., the Globe reported. And in September, nearly 70 protesters were arrested after following train tracks onto the grounds of the power plant, which activists call the last coal-powered plant in New England with no termination date.

The last coal-fueled power plant in Massachusetts was closed in 2017 and demolished last year.

“Our goal is to shut down the coal plant in New Hampshire,” von Mering said in a brief phone interview.

Friday’s protest, which she said blocked a train for over nine hours, was the fifth attempt in a month to stop trains from delivering coal to the plant, she said, noting that organizers follow the safety protocol of the railroad, placing an emergency call and stationing flaggers several miles ahead of where protesters are blocking the tracks.

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About 30 people from around New England carried aluminum and wood to the tracks at about 9 p.m. Thursday, constructing the scaffold by about 10:30, according to von Mering. The four protesters who were arrested were stationed on the platforms and had to be carried off when they refused to dismount, she said.