Police remove tank opponent from public hearing

Public walks out in protest
By Dan West | Nov 29, 2012
Photo by: Dan West Searsport Police Chief Richard LaHaye, left, escorts Searsport resident Ben Crimaudo from the Searsport High School Auditorium.

Searsport — After police removed a Searsport man from a public hearing on a proposed liquid propane gas (LPG) tank at Mack Point, opponents of the project walked out en masse Wednesday evening, Nov. 28.

Ben Crimaudo was escorted out of the meeting, held by the Searsport Planning Board, shortly before 9 p.m., after police said he was warned several times to stop talking. Crimaudo was not warned by the Board, nor did it order his removal, said Chair Bruce Probert immediately after the incident.

According to an email from Ken Agabian of Thanks But No Tank, Crimaudo was in a discussion about Neal Frangesh of LGA Engineering, Searsport's independent consultant. On several occasions Frangesh began to answer questions posed to the representatives of DCP Searsport LLC, which Crimaudo objected to. DCP is the applicant proposing to construct a 22.7-million-gallon LPG Tank in Searsport.

"This was not about the loudness of the comment, it was about the content," TBNT attorney Steve Hitchman said as Crimaudo was being removed. "This is flat-out censorship."

Police Chief Richard LaHaye helped escort Crimaudo from the auditorium with Officer Ryan Nickerson. LaHaye said he witnessed the incident and Crimaudo was warned three times by police to stop talking.

"It was an unfortunate set of circumstances," LaHaye said. "All I've asked is for everyone to be respectful. People are allowed to speak and to congregate, but they must be respectful."

LaHaye noted that signs had been prohibited from the meeting, and Probert began the meeting by asking the audience to remain silent and refrain from booing, laughing or causing a disturbance.

The members of the public who walked out following the incident gathered in the hallway behind the auditorium, giving witness statements to the police, offering words of support for Crimaudo and waving signs that read "we will not be silenced." Some present were in tears, while others chanted "shame, shame" at the officers.

Crimaudo said he was told by police that he would be arrested if he re-entered the auditorium. Police told the crowd to disperse and ordered a reporter videotaping the incident to turn her camera off.

Crimaudo was asked by LaHaye to visit him Thursday to discuss the incident. Crimaudo said he would file a complaint over the incident with LaHaye's boss, Town Manager James Gilway.

Comments (11)
Posted by: wellington dunbar | Dec 03, 2012 07:22

There is no need to get caught up emotionally with the removal of an individual from the meeting by the police. It was a error on their part to interfere as they did and it is quite possible that that is now realized and there will be restraint shown in the future. The planning board chair needs to control his meeting and that involves communicating with the police. Stay with the facts. Answers will be forthcoming or by the lack thereof. ConocoPhillips recently paid the Chinese government 350 million dollars in fines for a major oil spill at China's largest oil producing facility. The record for these oil companies toward the environment is insulting. The Congo, the Gulf of Mexico, Prince William Sound Alaska, the oil sands in Alberta, Lake Maracaibo Venezuela. Eco systems trashed for the pursuit of oil profit. Ask yourself however, what responsibility you have in the consumption of oil and what is your intention down the road towards better alternatives. This tank is not needed here in coastal maine.

Posted by: MARY JEAN CROWE | Dec 02, 2012 20:23

For audio recordings of testimony from the week-long Public Hearings, visit Penobscot Bay Blog, where Ron Huber has posted unedited audio from all sides of the issue. http://penobscotbay.blogspot.com/

Specifically, hear testimony from three individuals who reveal disturbing facts for why DCP should not be trusted or allowed to build this facility anywhere near our treasured mid-coast.




Where, by the way, are the PUBLIC HEARING videos recorded every night by Mr. Garrold, and promised in 48 hours? When will they be posted to VIMEO in their entirety? We're still waiting.


Posted by: MARY JEAN CROWE | Dec 02, 2012 19:39


For those of us present, Mr. Crimaudo caused no disruption.  The truth will be revealed.  For now, stayed home?  You can link to these on youtube and see the progression of events.








Hear on camera that Chairman Probert did not ask Mr. Crimaudo to leave.


Posted by: Lucinda Talbot | Dec 01, 2012 11:20

I have written to Chief LaHaye to ask that Officer Nickerson be suspended for his action. The police department's web site goals are for the "advancement of peace, prosperity and community values".  These qualities were certainly missing during the removal of Ben Crimaudo. And thanks to Dan Lorenz for info about audio and video recording of the police being protected under free speech.

Posted by: wellington dunbar | Dec 01, 2012 08:45

I personally spent years assisting and working with planning boards as a code officer. Planning boards can from time to time attract heated discussions. It is up to the chairperson to call the meeting to order should the meeting require it. If an individual persists in disrupting a meeting after being forewarned, that person can be asked to leave the meeting room. If that individual fails to comply with the chairs request, the chair can request police assistance to remove that individual. I never experienced the police entering a meeting on their own volition to remove an individual unless directed to do so by the chairperson.

Posted by: Melvin J. Box | Nov 30, 2012 17:16

Would everyone still be upset if it had been a supporter of the tank project that had been removed?

Posted by: A L M | Nov 30, 2012 08:52

Searsport is NOT Las Vegas!  What goes on in Searsport does not stay in Searsport!  This is a REGIONAL ISSUE!  The TBNT Attorney is a HERO!  The locals who are allowing a BIG corporation from away to USE Searsport for their gain are completely misinformed!  Do the individuals who support the tank care about their families and friends health and well-being?  If you support this massive tank, you are supporting a huge company from away that does NOT care about the local citizens.  They only care about lining their pockets with LOTS of money at the expense of OUR COMMUNITY!  OUTRAGEOUS that anyone would entertain the idea of a HUGE company from AWAY to come here and turn our beautiful state into an industrial zone at the expense of US and our HEALTH!  They are NOT vested in this community or even the State!  The rich executives might show up for two weeks in July to enjoy their mansion on the water perhaps eat at a local restaurant and then go home with ALL of their money to spend elsewhere!

Posted by: Dorothy Lanphear | Nov 30, 2012 07:44

I am not sure which affends me more: Police telling news reporter turn off camera. The other is misinformation being stated in a public formum.


Posted by: Roxanne Beryle Smith | Nov 29, 2012 21:16

Oh stop your pissing and whining!!

Posted by: Jennifer Hill | Nov 29, 2012 15:56

This is an outrage. This behavior by our police is not okay with me. As citizens, we pay their salaries and they have no right to behave in such a high handed fashion. Ben is a sweet, gentle man. He and his wife have provided untold hours of community service on behalf of stranded animals. We must stand together against this kind of police action.

Posted by: Dan Lorenz | Nov 29, 2012 15:35

On May 8, 2012 the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that audio or audiovisual recording of police is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment right to free speech. What right did the officer have to order anyone to turn off their camera?

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