Police arrest Belfast man during protest in Fairfield
Fairfield — Police arrested a Belfast man during a protest in Fairfield over the practice of fracking and the dangers of transporting oil by train in the state.
Robert Shaw, 66 of Belfast, was one of the members of the group 350 Maine attending the protest that was held Thursday, June 27. Shaw, and five other members of the group, was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing — a misdemeanor — shortly after 9:30 a.m.
Shaw was part of a group protesting the practice of oil and natural gas fracking, which he said poisons water supplies and is harmful to the environment. Fracking is the process of pumping chemically treated water into the ground at high pressure to widen or create cracks in the rock or rock formations to allow the natural gas and oil to be more easily extracted, according to an Internet search.
He continued by saying the group's concern with transporting oil and other fossil fuels by rail is that the fuel could spill into waterways due to the condition of the tracks, which Shaw described as “antiquated.”
At the time of his arrest, Shaw was with a group of people who were erecting barricades across the tracks. Another group of protesters were attempting to close off the road near the intersection of 139 and 201, Shaw said.
After a couple of hours of protesting, police told demonstrators they had 10 minutes to leave the area or they would be arrested. Shaw said he and five others had agreed before the protest began to stay until they were arrested. He said they wanted to be arrested to help draw more attention to the event.
Shaw said there were about 35 people present for the protest, but that number increased shortly before police arrested him. He estimated there were between 100 to 150 people watching and about 20 cars in the area when he was taken into custody.
Despite being arrested, Shaw had nothing but praise for the officers who took him and his fellow protestors into custody.
“The police were great. They treated us very respectfully and professionally,” he said.
Shaw said he is scheduled to appear in court August 14. Neither he nor the other protesters plan on going to trial.
Overall, Shaw said he felt the protest went beyond any expectations the group had for the event. He said two other events are also planned for later in July with a protest scheduled to take place at Sebago Lake and another protest will take place in Massachusetts.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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