NEWPORT- The two brothers arrested after blocking a truck carrying a wind turbine part both pled no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct by obstruction in Orleans Superior Court Criminal Division Sept. 11. College student Ira Powsner, 26, of Ira, VT, opted to take one to two days jail time rather than pay a $300 fine. His brother, Jacob Powsner, 21, of Ira, opted to pay the fine because he has college classes he must attend. Ira Powsner will report to jail on Sept. 28.
He said in a recent interview that he did not want to inconvenience the public in Orleans County, but that his actions were part of civil disobedience. “We believe what we did was the right thing to do. We weren’t trying to inconvenience traffic,” Ira Powsner said.
On July 16, approximately 150 protesters stood along Route 100 in Lowell across from the entrance to the Lowell Mountain Kingdom Wind project construction site. Protesters gathered in the morning awaiting the first oversized truck carrying a turbine component. When the truck came into view and approached the area, the protesters poured into the road and stopped the truck in its path.
Police identified Ira Powsner as a leader of the group, as he had a megaphone and was leading chants. Ira Powsner said he indeed was a leader in the group and went out first to make sure the truck stopped and it was safe for everyone. Jacob Powsner led the group with his brother. Both were warned by police to move or face arrest, but the brothers stood their ground. They were handcuffed and placed in the back of a police vehicle while law enforcement attempted to deal with the crowd in the road.
More and more law enforcement arrived at the scene and tried to move people off the road, but the protesters would return to the road to dance, chant, and wave Vermont flags. The standoff lasted two hours while traffic built up in both directions. Some motorists turned around and took a side road, but many others waited.
Law enforcement from several agencies showed up, including U.S. Border Patrol agents. A state trooper passed out dozens of plastic hand restraints during the event, but they were not needed. Activist leaders negotiated with police. They agreed to have everyone move off the road if police released the Powsner brothers. Police agreed, but said they could not "unarrest "individuals and the brothers would still face charges. After Ira and Jacob Powsner emerged from the vehicle and walked free to join with fellow protesters again, the crowd cheered and moved off the road.
When asked about the motivation to stop the truck, Ira Powsner said Wednesday that the protesters needed to establish a powerful voice.
In response to the criticism of protesters costing the state resources, Powsner said that Green Mountain Power, the company building the wind project, has cost state resources as well, and caused inconvenience. Law enforcement officers spent hours on Interstate 91 and traffic was backed up and motorists inconvenienced when a truck carrying a wind turbine overturned, he noted. He also said that GMP has used law enforcement on the mountain on weekend hours just because the activists held a few open houses on the nearby Don Nelson Property.
The Lowell Mountain turbine project remains on schedule to go fully on line by December despite all of the protests, delays, appeals, and lawsuits.
In the meantime, industrial wind protesters continue their activism against large turbines on Vermont mountains. A protest is planned in Montpelier on October 12 at 11:00 a.m. at the statehouse lawn, Ira Powsner said.
The rallying cry is: “Industrial wind turbines destroy Vermont Mountains and do not reduce CO2 emissions.” Activists are awarding "certificates of public harm” to Governor Peter Shumlin, the Public Service Board, and the Department of Public Service, Powsner said.