Incumbent Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was challenged at a campaign event by members from at least four different environmental groups over her support for Invenergy‘s $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant, her support for National Grid‘s planned LNG facility in the Port of Providence and her continued acceptance of campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies, fossil fuel company executives and the lawyers that enable them.
Members and allies of No LNG in PVD, The FANG Collective, BASE (Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion), and the Sunrise Movement (The Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition) gathered both inside and outside of Troop PVD, a trendy new bar on Valley Street.
A police officer, responding to a call, arrived to tell the protesters that, “You’re in front of a business. You’re in front of an establishment, so usually you’re not supposed to be able to do that unless…”
After being told that people have every right to protest, the Providence Police Officer said that he would wait to hear from his sergeant. I was inside when the sergeant arrived, but Dana Holmgren, tells me:
‘Sarge’ eventually came and said, ‘right to protest peacefully’ etc. The owner of Troop PVD came out to speak with the cops when things got loud inside and Sarge reiterated that it’s election season and folks have a right to free speech.
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Inside, “things got loud” when Governor Raimondo arrived.
In the video below, Governor Raimondo has just arrived and she’s just been approached by Kathy Martley from BASE, an anti-power plant and fracked gas group in Burrillville that is aligned with FANG. Martley and Raimondo have known each other for years. It was Martley who invited the Governor to visit Burrillville two years ago.
Here’s video courtesy of Burrillville BASE of Martley and Raimondo’s conversation.
The students from the Sunrise Movement begin singing, to get the Governor’s attention. Soon after the women at the Mom’s Demand Action table started chanting, “Gina! Gina!” to drown the Sunrise Movement protesters out. The people to my right, from the Rhode Island Latino PAC, joined the chant, and then the rest of the Raimondo supporters in the bar seemed to join in. At this point Troop PVD management cranked up the volume of the music to drown the Sunrise Movement students out.
A restaurant manager then approached the Sunrise Movement students and apologetically asked them to leave. They did, without incident.
The Rhode Island chapter of the Sunrise Movement sought to put pressure on Governor Raimondo over her recent acceptance of $250,000 from Samson Energy and her refusal to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge.
Stacy Schusterman of Tulsa, Oklahoma, chairwoman of Samson Energy Company (a fossil fuel company with leases for off-shore drilling) has donated $250,000 to help @GovRaimondo get re-elected.https://t.co/88Fl5FAeN0@UpriseRI
— Steve Ahlquist (@steveahlquist) August 22, 2018
The event was hosted by #MillennialsforGina, listed as Karen Alzate, Gabe Amo, Marcela Betancur, Kate O’Brien, Rachel Cohen, Dylan Conley, Jenica Conley, Carly Craver, Emily Crowell, Christine DiBiase, James Diossa, Danielle Dufault, Travis Escobar, Will Farrell, Stephanie Gonzalez, Kat Kerwin, Lindsey Lerner, Rita Nerney, Eddie Pare, Kyla Pecchia, Keith Phillis, Joseph Phommasith, Erlin Rogel and Nicole Verdi.
Nicole Verdi, is an attorney for Adler Pollock & Sheehan and represents Invenergy before the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), fighting to build the power plant in Burrillville over the objections of Burrillville residents and most of the state.
It is estimated that Adler Pollock & Sheehan, a law firm representing Invenergy, gave Raimondo $98,785 since the company proposed the fracked gas plant.
For those who worry that I may have selectively edited the first video above, here is all the footage I have from inside Troop, with only the parts where I held the camera down to move through the bar removed:
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