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4 Arrested After Protesters Use Scaffolding To Block Train Carrying Coal In Harvard

HARVARD (CBS) – Four people were arrested after a group of protesters stopped a train on the tracks in Harvard, Massachusetts overnight.

The "No Coal No Gas" campaign put up a 16-foot tall scaffolding on the tracks late Thursday night to stop a coal train heading to a plant in Bow, New Hampshire. They want a closure date for the Merrimack Generating Station in Bow.

"There were four people intending to sleep there and block the train. We attempted to negotiate with them for about two-and-a-half-hours. At some point we decided, because of the exposure, it was dangerous for them, it was dangerous for the rescuers, so the decision was made to call in the technical rescue team and they went in and removed the people from the scaffolding without incident," said Harvard Police Chief Ed Denmark.

The train, which was carrying 10,000 tons of coal from West Virginia, was stopped for more than eight hours before the scaffolding was taken down by Harvard firefighters. Protesters could be seen singing during the protest.

"We believe it's immoral in this day and age to still be burning coal in New England. We're in the middle of a climate crisis and we need to stop burning fossil fuels," said protester Dana Dwinell-Yardley of "No Coal No Gas." "This is one in a series of train blockades. The trains bringing coal in is a pipeline to the Bow power plant, as it were, and we're trying to stop this happening."

State Police said four of the protesters, three men and a woman, refused to leave, so they were arrested. They were later identified as Timothy Dechristopher, 38, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Adam Rice, 30, of South Portland, Maine, Cody Pajic, 21, of Pembroke and Gia Neswald, 50, of Turners Falls.

"We did stop it for a long time. That feels good," Pajic said.

All were charged with trespassing, walking or standing on railroad tracks and obstruction of the passing of a train. They were arraigned Friday in Clinton District Court.

"We had flaggers, we had lanterns, we placed a call to the emergency dispatch saying that there was an obstruction here," said protester Emma Schoenberg. "And so I have a lot of confidence in our ability to keep one another safe."

Denmark said first-responders may send the protesters a bill for resources spent. Pajic said it would still be worth it.

"I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing what's going on with our environment, with the world, and not taking direct action," Pajic said.

This was the fourth New Hampshire-bound coal blockade for "No Coal No Gas." Protesters say there will be more to follow.

WBZ-TV reached out to the company that owns the Merrimack Generating Station for comment but got no response.

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