At the entrance of the Merrimack Station power plant, protestors stood in defiance of local and state police wearing helmets and body armor as they called to shut down the last remaining coal power plant in New England.
Merrimack Station in Bow, which is owned and operated by Granite Shore Power, remains a site of controversy for environmental activists who want to see cleaner and greener energy alternatives.
On Sunday, protestors gathered on a baseball field directly across from the power plant, demanding it be shut down for good.
“Are the cops here to protect the coal plant, or are they here to provide safety for the people who want to have their right to protest,” said Mary Fite, a resident of Bow and leader of a community advocacy group affiliated with NH350 and No Coal No Gas, the campaign that organized Sunday’s demonstration.
Protestors, who had announced their rally ahead of time, were prevented from parking alongside either section of the road, forcing most to caravan to the site from a distance.
“We’re kind of surprised. We came in 2019 and the parking was only on one side of the road, which seemed reasonable,” said Fite. “People shouldn’t be blocking the roadway, there’s trucks that come down this road and we need to be respectful of that. But no parking on either side seems like they’re just trying to prevent people from coming here today.”
Protestors in 2019 held a similar demonstration, with protestors marching around the plant and kayaking down the Merrimack River. No arrests were made during that protest, despite leaving signage and plants along the property.
This time protestors took to the baseball field stands to give remarks before several others crossed onto private property and were arrested.
“I see a lot of young people here, thank you, thank you, thank you for showing up,” said Arthur Blackhawk, representing the Lenape tribe. “Too many of my generation close their eyes, close their wallet and their hearts to this moment.”
Asma Elhuni, of the New Hampshire Movement Politics Director of Rights and Democracy, said the movement was about more than closing Merrimack Station.
“I also want to make clear that when we’re talking about environmental justice, we mean not only fossil fuels, but also all of the conditions that make up our environment,” said Elhuni. “It is also what makes up our physical environment, including policing, including public safety, and health, and education.”
Following the speeches, multiple demonstrators crossed to the entrance to Merrimack Station, with some using pickaxes to tear up a portion of the driveway. Two protestors were arrested, and cited for criminal mischief.
Protestors began to plant flowers near the entrance, with several demonstrator locking arms as New Hampshire State Police stood by. The Bow Police department arrived on the scene, broadcasting a message to all individuals within the confines of Merrimack Station.
“This is the Bow Police Department. You are trespassing on this property,” Bow Police announced. “I am ordering you to leave this property immediately, or return to the area designated for the protest by the property owners.”
The remaining 16 protestors were arrested and cited for criminal trespass. Between the remainder of the peaceful demonstrators off the property and the 18 arrested demonstrators stood 42 state police officers suited in body armor.
Cheers and chants were shouted for each protestor arrested during the demonstration. “Shut it down,” and “we love you” were shouted as the detained demonstrators were escorted off-site.