LURC protesters upset over bail rules

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 27, 2009, at 8:43 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Six protesters arrested last week during a Land Use Regulation Commission meeting concerning Plum Creek’s Moosehead Lake development plan are free on bail but say the conditions of their release are excessively harsh and irrelevant to the charges against them.

Ryan Clarke, 27, of Corinth; Jessica Dowling, 28, of Searsmont; James Freeman, 60, of Verona Island; Megan Gilmartin, 25, of Corinth; Christian Neils, 32, of Appleton; and Emily Posner, 28, of Montville each face disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing charges after refusing to leave the Bangor meeting.

Neils also was charged with resisting arrest and carrying a concealed knife.

Each member of the group who had to be carried out of the LURC meeting was released from jail later that day on $500 unsecured bail, which they would have to pay only if they didn’t show up for their Nov. 5 court date. What bothers them is they also were given a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and must submit to searches, and two were barred from possessing or using alcohol.

“We feel that these conditions are illegal and politically motivated,” Gilmartin said in a statement issued Saturday. “We took nonviolent civil disobedience action to draw attention to the problems with the process that was used to approve Plum Creek’s plan, and these bail conditions are being used to punish us for exercising our right to free speech.”

Penobscot County District Attorney Chris Almy said Sunday that the bail commissioner and the courts set bail conditions, and that arresting police agencies can ask for additional conditions for release.

The group of protesters has “requested to have the bail amended to delete the curfew and no-alcohol provision and we’re checking to see why that was requested,” he said. “At the bail hearing, we’ll be able to indicate whether we agree or disagree with that decision.”

The bail hearing could take place this week, Almy said.

If convicted of the disorderly conduct or criminal trespassing charges, those arrested face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. Neils also faces up to a year in prison and fines of up to $2,000 on each of his additional charges.

Freeman, Gilmartin and Posner have been arrested before for their involvement in other protests, according to information previously published by the Bangor Daily News.

The latest arrests happened on Wednesday as land use commissioners were preparing to vote on final plans for Plum Creek’s development in Greenville.

The protesters, associated with the environmental activist group Maine Earth First! rushed to the front of the room and locked arms with one another while denouncing LURC’s process as well as Plum Creek. They were arrested because they failed to leave when police asked them to disperse.

BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/09/27/politics/lurc-protesters-upset-over-bail-rules/ printed on December 18, 2014